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Lesson learned for J-M

BERLIN CENTER — The learning curve is taking some time for the Jackson-Milton girls basketball team.

Blue Jays coach Pat Keney hopes Monday night was a step in the right direction despite a 66-34 loss to Western Reserve in a in Mahoning Valley Athletic Conference matchup.

The Blue Devils got inside and outside production to roll over Jackson-Milton.

“We just need to work on our defense better,” Keney said, “We are very impatient. We’re not running our offense like we should. We need to be able to move the ball around more. We’re going down the floor and shooting right away. We’re not running an offense. These kids need to learn to run an offense.”

Grace McDevitt led the Blue Jays with 10 points. Western Reserve rebounded after a close loss to McDonald last week.

“After a difficult loss on Thursday, you kind of never know how your kids are going to respond,” Western Reserve coach Steve Miller said. “Last year after McDonald beat us the first time, I though that we felt overly sorry for ourselves. We followed that up with our worst game of the year. You live and you learn.

“We definitely wanted to come into today and say it’s done and it’s over with and come out and play. We needed to get back to what we do. What we do well is we push the tempo, we run, and we have nice balance of going inside and outside. We wanted to get back to who we were.”

That inside production came from Danielle Vuletich, who led the Blue Devils (11-2, 7-1 MVAC) with 29 points and nine rebounds. The outside production came despite Alyssa Serensky picking up two early fouls and Kennedy Miller sitting after dinging her finger.

Laura Sigworth and Brooke Schantz picked up the slack with nine points between the two of them. Olivia Pater added seven points in the first half as Western Reserve held 36-17 at the half.

“That’s the game we usually run — inside, outside,” Vuletich said. “We rely on our shooters. I’m really thankful for the girls looking for me inside because I wouldn’t have gotten all of those points if it wasn’t for them. We always work as team if they are double teaming me. Tonight, they were face guarding me and we were able to get our shooters off. If I get an offensive rebound, I can just dish it out. I can trust them because we have that bond.”

Western Reserve limited Jackson-Milton (6-5, 5-3) to 4-of-18 shooting in the first half. The Blue Jays were out rebounded 21 to 7 in the first half and struggled with ball movement with two assists to 11 for the Blue Devils.

Vuletich had 15 points in the half. She finished off her production in the fourth quarter scoring 14 of Western Reserve’s 22 points — even outscoring Jackson-Milton by five.

“We had no answer for her inside,” Keney said. “It didn’t matter who I put on her. We doubled up on her, but we just didn’t get the job done.”

“She does a lot of what she does in limited minutes,” Miller said. “We have other girls that are working and deserve to play. We’re always trying to keep her healthy. We always have to see how a team is defending us. Are they doubling Dani?

“It’s obviously going to start with how they are defending her. We shoot the perimeter shot pretty well. If you can get it into her, you are going to go into her. We thought they were going one-on-one. So we kept going inside.”

The Blue Devils led 51-21 after three quarters and were sound on the defensive end limiting Jackson-Milton to 10-of-40 shooting from the field while shooting 47 percent from the field with eight players in scoring figures.

“I do think this team is better offensively than defensively,” Miller said. “We always want to pride ourselves on defense. We gave up 34 the other night. We gave up 34 tonight. Our defensive average is around 36 a game. We definitely try to get stops. You aren’t going to get on the break or transition without the stops. I don’t think we’re the best defensive team, but we’re pretty solid.”

“I think we responded pretty well,” Vuletich said. “It was a tough loss for all of us. Like coach, the sun will rise and we had to get back on the grind. I think we gained a lot of our confidence back because Jackson-Milton is a good team. I think we just had to put that game in the past.”

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