Lordstown’s defense leads Red Devils to title game

ROOTSTOWN – For the Lordstown Red Devils, they left nothing up to chance on Thursday night.

The Red Devils used a stifling defensive unit to control their semifinal matchup with Cornerstone Christian and led from start to finish to beat the Patriots, 63-41.

Lordstown (20-4) kept Cornerstone Christian (19-4) scoreless for almost the first minutes of the game, while jumping to a 13-1 lead at one point in the first quarter. Overall, the Red Devils forced the Patriots into committing 20 turnovers and held them to a 27-percent shooting performance.

“We emphasized defense, and they came out and played really strong defense today,” Lordstown coach Dave Smith said. “We got a lot of turnovers, steals, fast-break points. We actually set the tone for the game.”

To go along with a stifling defense, Lordstown found offense from other sources outside of playmaker Sarah Cash.

Cornerstone Christian face-guarded Cash for most of the game after she scored a quick seven points in the first 4 minutes of the game, hoping to neutralize Lordstown’s main offensive threat, but the other Red Devils took advantage of the special attention paid to their junior forward., especially Marlena Liming, who hit a few timely jumpers, and Ally Hajnosz, who drove to the basket at times.

Cash still managed to drop 26 points on Cornerstone Christian, while Liming and Hajnosz added 12 and 10 points, respectively.

“They focused a lot on Sarah, and then a lot of the other girls stepped up and did their part,” Smith said. “I have to give it to a lot of them. They made their open shots when they needed to.”

Cash echoed the sentiments of her coach following the game.

“It helps a lot because one person can’t do it all,” she said. “When everybody steps up, it makes it easier, and then we win by more than just a small margin.”

With the win, Lordstown moves on to face fellow Northeastern Athletic Conference team Maplewood in the Division IV district final. For the Red Devils, they are just 32 minutes away from their penultimate goal set at the beginning of the season.

“We want to win the (district) championship,” Cash said. “If we don’t we want to at least play good defense and be smart.”