Girls’ Basketball: Steubenville Knocked From Unbeaten Ranks

WHEELING – It was the one they’ve been waiting for.

When undefeated Steubenville came into the Stifle Field House, Linsly had only one thing on its mind: revenge.

It was Big Red who beat the Cadets in the first game of the season, 63-46 – the only blemish on their record.

”We’ve been watching film for like a week just learning their plays,” Linsly sophomore Morgan Brunner said. ”We wanted it really bad.”

It showed.

The Cadets jumped out to a quick lead and never looked back as they extended their winning streak to 14 games by beating Steubenville, 68-48, in front of a packed audience.

”We have so many new girls on our team and we were only together for a few weeks,” Linsly coach Erica Hall said of the first matchup. ”We knew Big Red had girls that have been playing with each other for a while. It was an aggressive game. We came in here hungry for sure.”

Linsly (14-1) used a stifling defense to limit Big Red (16-1) to 3 of 21 shooting in the first half to take a 22-13 lead at halftime. The Cadets also forced 11 turnovers in the first 16 minutes.

”Our shooting was poor most of the game,” said Steubenville coach Phil Casinelli, who did not coach in the first meeting due to personal reasons. ”We weren’t hitting our shots. It’s as simple as that.”

The 13 first-half points were a season-low for Big Red.

”They’re long,” Casinelli said of the Cadets. ”I think we have to have a little bit better guard play. Our guard play wasn’t what we expected. We did turn the ball over quite a few times, but it was more the fact that we made bad passes. Not to take anything away from them, but our guard play needs to get better if we’re going to move forward.”

Steubenville began the third shooting 4 of 8 and eventually cut the deficit to 33-24 with 3:14 remaining in the period on a pair of Lysiah Rice free throws, but Brunner, who finished with 31 points, connected on a conventional three-point-play to give the Cadets back their double-digit lead at 38-24.

”The momentum they had with the crowd, they got up early and just rode that wave,” Casinelli said. ”Add that to our cold shooting and we were just never able to get within range. We cut it to nine in the third, then we had an opportunity to make it seven, but we missed a shot and they came down and hit one.”

That seemed to be the story all night.

Any run Big Red attempted to make was cut short by either solid post play from Jazzie Orth and Vivian Allison or J.J. Jackson driving right through the heart of the defense for a lay-in. Plus once Brunner got the ball in her hands, nearly 60 percent of the time it went in.

”We have scorers on our team, and it’s different ones every night, so we’re getting used to the fact that it’s OK to rely on each other,” Hall said. ”When we play together, the more effective we’re going to be. The girls just want to win. They deal with that maturity part pretty well.”

Brunner had nine boards to go with her 31 points, two shy of her career-high, and was 15 of 16 from the foul line. Jackson added with 12 points and six steals, while Allison had 17 points. Orth ended the night with 10 rebounds and four points.

”I thought it was a great game, great atmosphere,” Hall said. ”This was the best that I’ve seen us play as a team. Everyone kept their head. We’re going to make mistakes, but they let the mistakes roll of their shoulders and continued to play hard. It was a great team effort. I’m really proud of them.”

”We needed this for our confidence,” Hall said. “We won 13 games, but we really weren’t getting a lot of competition in certain games to push us. (Monday) was a test. Big Red definitely brought it.”

While the dream of an undefeated season came to an end for Casinelli his team, its season goals are still in reach.

”It’s hard in any sport to go undefeated,” he said. ”It’s a difficult thing because the more game you win, the more other teams want to knock you off that pedestal. We have a lot of goals this year and all of those goals are still obtainable. It really wasn’t one of our goals to win every game. It’s not breaking our goals. It’s just one game and the girls understand that. We didn’t get too high one all those wins and we’re not going to get too low on one loss.”

Emiley Masloski finished with 21 points to lead Steubenville.