ASHTABULA TOWNSHIP —
The Wrigley Company used to market Doublemint Gum with the slogan, “Double your pleasure, double your fun.” The Conneaut and Edgewood girls basketball teams did Wrigley one better in tripling their pleasure as 3-pointers reigned supreme in the Warriors’ 39-37 win Wednesday at Edgewood. The Spartans (1-3) knocked home three of their first five shot attempts, all from behind the arc, to take a 9-0 advantage just 1:32 into the contest. They added six more points to go up 15-2 with 3:37 left in the opening period. Gia Saturday tallied a pair of triples, Taylor Diemer connected on a trey and Carrie Pascarella converted a three-point play to turn the tide. After a bucket from Brooke Bennett, the Spartans led 28-20 just 36 seconds into the third quarter. Kaileigh Sloan, Cortney Humphrey and Diemer all netted scores to get Edgewood (2-0) within a bucket, 28-26, with 5:10 to go in the period. Saturday then drilled a 3-pointer from the corner to give the Warriors their first lead, 29-28, with 2:16 to go in the third. “I had an idea (how important that shot was),” Saturday said. “I knew the score, but I wasn’t thinking about it while I was shooting. It really hit me afterwards. “That was just a momentum builder, not just for me, but for the whole team. It got us really pumped.” Diemer and Haley Holden followed with scores of their own. When the dust had cleared, Edgewood had tallied a 13-0 run to take a 33-28 advantage into the final eight minutes. “We played under control,” Saturday said. “Coach (Steve) Kray told us at halftime the first three minutes (of the second half) were the most important. We controlled the ball.” “I don’t know that it was one thing,” Conneaut coach Tony Pasanen said. “We made poor decisions with the basketball and we missed some shots.” Edgewood’s Iesha Niciu also had a hand in the Spartans’ losing the lead. The Edgewood freshman blocket eight second-half shots, altering Conneaut’s offensive mindset a bit. “Iesha blocked a few shots in the third quarter and that changed the momentum and what Conneaut could do in the lane,” Kray said. “After she blocked two or three, they knew she was in there and started to go outside. Just her presence in there changed things.” Lexi Zappitelli got into the triple act with a three-point play after she had made a free throw to cut the Conneaut deficit to one, 33-32. Thompson buried her third 3-pointer of the night to get the score to 36-35 in favor of Edgewood with 3:15 to remaining in the contest. Saturday lengthened that advantage with a 3-pointer from the wing for the Warriors’ final points. “That’s two games in a row she’s hit a shot like that,” Kray said. “Against Orange, she hit one to end a 12-0 run (by Orange) and she hit that one down there tonight. Usually, we’re trying to get layups in that situation, but we tell her if she’s open, since she’s our best outside shooter, to take the shot.” Zappitelli made a steal and scored on a layup to make it a one-possession game at 39-37 with 1:48 to go. The Warriors had an oppportunity to put the game away, but missed on five free-throw attempts in the final 35 seconds, but Conneaut couldn’t take advantage. The Spartans missed on a pair of 3-point attempts and Edgewood escaped with the victory. “I told the girls their effort was outstanding,” Pasanen said. “When you play an arch rival, you know it’s going to be a battle. Even though we started hot, I knew Edgewood would make a run. It came down to making plays at the end and (Edgewood) did.” The Warriors were 17 of 38 (44.7 percent) from the field and had balanced scoring with Saturday leading the way with eight points. Diemer scored seven and Humphrey added six. Five other players scored at least two points to overcome the 35 turnovers they committed. “That’s about 20 percent better than we usually are,” Kray said. “We took better shots and we didn’t force anything. We got shots that were open.” Thompson opened the tilt with a 3-pointer from the top of the key. After Natalie Bertolasio netted her own triple, Thompson added another, this one from the wing to give the Spartans a 9-0 lead with 6:32 left in the opening period. “For any team, especially a younger one, (that kind of a start) helps with the confidence,” Pasanen said. “ The long-distance barrage forced Kray to call timeout and address his players with the hope of keeping them in the game. “(Kray) reminded us it was only a minute and a half into the game, their shots wouldn’t fall the whole game,” Saturday said. “He kept us under control.” Zappitelli scored Conneaut’s next six points to give the Spartans the 15-2 edge. They led 19-8 heading into the second. After the hot start, Conneaut cooled considerably in finishing the night with a shooting percentage of 23.7 (12 of 52) making Kray look like a prophet. Diemer nailed a 3-pointer a minute in to the second period and Pascarella made a steal and was fouled as she scored on a layup. She converted the free throw and Edgewood had cut it’s defecit to six at 20-14. Zappitelli paced the Spartans with 18 points, 10 rebounds and six steals. Thomspon netted nine points. Ettinger is a freelance writer from Ashtabula.