STEUBENVILLE - Two second half scoring bursts made the difference Tuesday as Big Red's girls knocked off Oak Glen 53-39 and advanced to the finals of the Wheeling Hospital Ohio Valley Athletic Conference Class 4A Tournament.
Phil Casinelli's top-seeded crew will play the survivor of tonight's Martins Ferry-Union Local clash at 3 p.m. Saturday for the conference crown. The title game is scheduled for Ohio University's Eastern campus in St. Clairsville.
"It definitely is a nice win for our program," Casinelli said. "I'm so proud of our girls. This is a great accomplishment for them. They work hard and they earned it.
OVAC TOURNAMENT — Steubenville Big Red’s Taylor Young scores two points against Oak Glen’s Logan Andrews during the first half of Tuesday’s 53-39 win by Big Red inside the Crimson Center in the Wheeling Hospital Ohio Valley Athletic Conference Class 4A semifinals.
-- Mike Mathison
"We'll enjoy this for maybe a day. We'll find who our opponent will be tonight then we'll get to work and come up with a game plan."
The trip to the OVAC championship contest will be Big Red's first in four years.
Big Red, now 14-7, and Oak Glen went toe-to-toe during the first 16 minutes. The Golden Bears used baskets by Jessica Stivason, Casey Patterson and Kaitlyn Herstine to grab a 14-10 advantage after one quarter.
Lysiah Rice and Hannah Masloski recorded back-to-back hoops to give Big Red a 22-20 lead at the intermission. The contest, played inside the Crimson Center, featured five opening-half lead changes. Scott Wiley's Oak Glen club knocked seven of its first 12 field goal tries and shot 50 percent (10 for 20) for the half.
The hosts led 30-27 midway through the third before staging their initial scoring run. Rice got things rolling when she scored from the lane. The Masloski sisters (Hannah and Emiley) then drained consecutive triples and Big Red was up 38-27. It was 38-29 Big Red heading into the final eight minutes.
Oak Glen wasn't about to go away quietly. Vanessa Hissam, Stivason and Tori Feicht all scored to open the fourth and slice the Big Red lead to 38-35. Points by Mytia Baker and Emiley Masloski put the score at 43-35. OG's Alex Arnott recorded a pair before Big Red put the semifinal win on ice with a second 8-0 burst.
Barker turned consecutive Emiley Masloski passes into points then the two juniors each sank a pair of free throws. Barker scored 10 of her team's 17 fourth stanza markers.
After shooting well in the first half, the Golden Bears were just seven for 24 during the final quarters and were guilty of 12 turnovers.
"Their pressure hurt us and we didn't handle the ball well," Wiley noted. "We had some open shots but we couldn't get the ball in the hole. They play tough man-to-man defense and we knew that coming. There's a reason why they're number one in the OVAC."
Casinelli pointed out his team did make some defensive adjustments at the half.
"We were getting beat on back-door plays on the baseline in the first half," he said. "The girls responded to the changes made by the coaching staff and did a great job in the second.
"Any time you can hit the three that definitely is a plus. We haven't been able to hit three's recently but tonight a few fell at the right time. We hit some shots, got a couple of defensive stops and that's how you get those 8-0 runs."
Barker led Big Red in scoring with 18 and also collected nine of her team's 22 rebounds.
"I think playing the last two weeks without Emiley, Mytia really stepped up and played," her coach noted.
"She gained confidence in herself and it showed tonight. She knew she had to pick up her game and she did a great job of rebounding, attacking the basket and getting to the foul line."
Emiley Masloski, still not at full strength due to an injury, added 10 and dished out five assists. Hannah Masloski added nine and three assists.
"Emiley's presence on the court helps our girls," Casinelli added. "She is still our leader and knows her limitations. She played within those limitations and did a great job.
"Hannah likes to distribute the ball to her teammates and defensively she does a great job on the ball. Tonight, she caused a few turnovers as did the rest of our girls."
Stivason, who canned her first four shots, paced Oak Glen, now 9-8, with 10 points. Feicht and Hissam each had eight. The Golden Bears had 30 rebounds, Hissam getting nine and also blocking five shots.
"We made it to the semifinals the last three years and it definitely is a good experience for our girls," Wiley said. "We need to keep them hungry and work to get a higher seed. We have always been the number four seed.
"We still have a few games left before our tournament. We'll fight back and keep working."
Oak Glen will play the loser of the Martins Ferry-Union Local game, probably on Thursday.
Big Red 53, Oak Glen 39
Oak Glen 14 6 9 10 - 39
Big Red 10 12 16 17 - 53
OAK GLEN (9-8): Arnott 1 0-0 2; Snow 0 0-0 0; Patterson 1 0-0 2; Evans 1 2-2 4; Andrews 1 1-2 3; Herstine 1 0-0 2; Feicht 4 0-0 8; Hissam 4 0-3 8; Wiley 0 0-0 0; Stivason 4 2-2 10. TOTALS: 17 5-9 39. 3-pointers: none; Rebounds 30 (Hissam 9); Turnovers 24.
BIG RED (14-7): E. Masloski 3 3-4 10; H. Masloski 3 1-2 9; Young 3 0-0 6; Wilson 0 0-0 0; Barker 7 4-11 18; Rice 2 0-0 4; Bodo 0 1-2 1; Taylor 2 0-0 5. TOTALS: 20 9-19 53. 3-pointers: H, Masloski (2), E. Masloski, Taylor; Rebounds: 22 (Barker 9); Turnovers: 16.