The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

December 31, 2012

Conneaut prevails in battle of archrivals

Spartans outlast Warriors

For the Star Beacon

CONNEAUT — You never would know it was a battle for a consolation finish at the Conneaut Holiday Tournament on Saturday evening. When it is Edgewood and Conneaut, it’s going to be a battle, and that is exactly what happened at Garcia Gymnasium as the Spartans used a 50-percent shooting night to down the Warriors, 54-46.

A nightmare of a second quarter for Edgewood proved to be the big difference.

A  7-2 run in the first period gave the Warriors (3-7) an 11-5 lead. After a rough first two minutes of the second period, when both teams had trouble getting going, Angie Zappitelli took a pinpoint pass from Shae Brink for a layup with 5:26 left before intermission for a 12-11 Spartan lead. The only thing the Warriors got the rest of the half, while Conneaut scored 14 points in the quarter, was a Keegan McTrusty jumper in the lane.

Nine turnovers led to only six Edgewood shots.

“We had a really rough second period,” Warrior coach Dave McCoy said. “That kind of set the tone for the rest of the game. Just like we did Thursday night, we battled back to nearly win. Conneaut did a nice job of taking Gia Saturday away from us. She’s our top legitimate scorer, but Carrie Pascarella really stepped up tonight.”

Second-half comebacks are something the Warriors are used to now.

“I challenged the girls at halftime,” McCoy said. “They came back and outscored Conneaut in the second half. We played good defense but shot ourselves in the foot too many times.”

With Lydia Coccitto and Brooke Bennett hounding Saturday all night, Pascarella stepped up to lead the Warrior offense with 14 points. Cortney Humphrey added eight, and four others each tallied six.

Eventually, a 2-of-10 line from the charity stripe over the first three quarters proved to be too much to overcome for the Warriors.

“I am really proud of how we played tonight,” Conneaut coach Tony Pasanen said. “I told them in the locker room that I hope we can keep up this effort the rest of the season. The biggest thing tonight was our ball movement. It has really improved the last couple games, and now we need to learn to win more.”

Lexi Zappitelli has been the top point producer for the Spartans (4-6), but while she had a solid game with 17 points, she had lots of help.

Natalie Bertolasio and Dani Heinonen came off the bench and made huge contributions. Bertolasio scored 10 points, and Heinonen had eight. Both kept the ball moving all night.

“Lexi has been more consistent lately, but the key is how our three seniors have been providing leadership,” Pasanen said. “Tori Simek, Angie Zappitelli, and Lydia Coccitto have really been getting the job done well for us, and the younger girls are feeding off their effort. We have some really unselfish girls here, and it’s finally getting to a point where we feel we have a chance to win now.”

With 13 assists from seven different players on the night, Conneaut is turning things around over the last week and a half. The same is true for the Warriors (3-7).

“We may be trying to go too fast at times,” McCoy said. “But I will take that effort every game and be happy.”

Kelly is a freelance writer from Jefferson.