By BOB ETTINGER
For the Star Beacon
Conneaut girls basketball coach Tony Pasanen has a pretty good idea what the Spartans are capable of doing. They did exactly what he thought they could in a 29-17 victory over Jefferson on Saturday night at Garcia Gymnasium.
“The one thing we’re preaching to the girls is we know they’re going to struggle offensively,” he said. “The one thing they can control is their hustle on defense.
“This is the most unselfish, disciplined group I think I’ve had. They just want to play hard. To me, (defense) is just an attitude and they applied it to the game.”
The Spartans (1-0) held the Falcons (0-1) to just 7 of 52 shooting (13.5 percent).
“There’s no doubt, we’ve got to shoot better than that,” Jefferson coach Rod Holmes said. “You don’t beat anybody shooting like that. We had our opportunities, we didn’t shoot the ball well.
“We tried to rush our shots instead of shooting good shots. We’ve got to work in practice on shooting at that pace, that game speed.”
Jefferson did hold the Spartans to just 29 points and 28.6 percent shooting (12 of 42), which would win a good number of games.
“If we put the ball in the basket, we’d win those games,” Holmes said. “Who knows? If we put the ball in the basket, they may have, too.”
Conneaut got out to a 7-1 lead six minutes into the game and used a 12-0 run in the second period to go up, 19-3, with a minute and a half to play.
“The first half, we definitely wanted to get out in transition and we did a good job of that, for the most part,” Pasanen said. “I knew we’d make mistakes, but I thought the girls rose up to the occasion.”
Jefferson made a charge with an 8-0 spurt, in which Deanna Comp scored six points, in the third quarter to get within 10, 21-11, but the Falcons couldn’t get any closer.
Lexi Zappitelli scored 15 points and had six rebounds to pace the Spartans while Comp fell just shy of a triple-double with nine points, 12 rebounds and 13 steals.
Ettinger is a freelance writer from Ashtabula.