Challenge met

Lordstown tops Mathews as tournament play looms

Special to Tribune Chronicle / Dianna Oatridge Lordstown’s Ava Spano (left), along with Mathews’ Carlie Pratt (center) and Ashley Deans (right) fight for a loose ball Thursday night at Lordstown in the Red Devils’ 50-44 win.

LORDSTOWN — Lordstown defeated Mathews, 50-44, Thursday night in a game that was part of the Northeastern Athletic Conference Stars & Stripes Challenge.

The challenge pits teams against the corresponding finisher of the other division. Both teams finished in second place in their division, Lordstown in the Stripes and Mathews in the Stars.

Lordstown (15-6) quickly took control of the game causing a timeout by Mathews (12-9). The Red Devils led 16-9 after the first quarter. Lordstown got out to a 22-9 lead to start the second quarter before an 8-0 run by the Mustangs cut it to 22-17.

“They (Mathews) are very scrappy and they get after it. They play defense really well,” Lordstown coach Dave Smith said. “They always look to attack the basket and (Cara) Bornemiss can really shoot the ball. Playing a good team going into the tournament is going to give us some momentum hopefully.”

Lordstown led at the half, 28-21, but Mathews was nowhere near done. Mathews began the second half on a 9-2 run which tied the game at 30.

Special to Tribune Chronicle / Dianna Oatridge Lordstown’s Ava Spano goes for a layup against the defense of Mathews’ Carlie Pratt Thursday night at Lordstown.

“We were boxing out and playing good defense. In the first half, we weren’t getting the rebounds,” Mathews coach Aaron Pounds said. “In the third quarter, we rebounded much better. Nothing really changed but we limited them to one shot.”

Mathews led 35-34 after three quarters but Lordstown was too good in the fourth quarter as it pulled away for the win.

Now, both teams are looking ahead to the postseason as they each have a chance for something special.

“That’s Mathews’ girls. Coach Joe Bornemiss helped instill that in this program,” Pounds said about the team’s scrappy style of play. “I’ve just come in here and carried on the tradition. That’s a credit to these girls. I keep telling them that we are battle tested.”

Pounds said the experience of playing in a lot of close games will help his team tremendously in the tournament.

Special to Tribune Chronicle / Dianna Oatridge Mathews' Emily Strama weaves through the defense of Lordstown's Jess Wilk (2), Ava Spano (31), and Kaylynn Higmabotham (14).

On the other side, Lordstown now has all its focus on Wellsville in its first round match-up.

“Hopefully, if we bring the intensity from the start that we did today, I think we will be alright. I’m hoping that we can get by them and then we will face Western Reserve,” Smith said.

Mathews has one more regular season game against a good Liberty team on Saturday, then plays host to Richmond Heights in Division IV tournament play on Wednesday. That same night, Lordstown plays host to Wellsville.