ASHTABULA — The ladies kicked off the multi-decade long tradition of the West-Side Shootout on Friday at the West Avenue basketball courts.
The same two teams faced off twice under the steaming-hot, relentless sun in exhibition-like action — games played up to 15 with a 30-minute time limit. Both teams will go to battle once more today in the title game.
On Friday, the green team of Taylor Skinner, Monica Devine, Shayla Christian, Jordyn Jamison, Adrianna Hall and Carly James won both games.
They took the first 15-8. The second game was far more competitive.
After a brief timeout with the score tied 10-10, the other squad — wearing different colored shirts — scored the first two points after Dazhae Campbell and Shy’Questa Pollard dropped in back-to-back layups.
Then, Skinner, a rising Jefferson Area High School sophomore, took over. She found Jamison on the baseline to pull within one point. A few moments after a Tamara Olavarria putback, Skinner nailed a shot from behind the 3-point arc, worth two points, to take a 14-13 lead.
She closed the game with a steal and assist to James, who dropped in the 15th point via layup.
“It was actually like really fun,” said Skinner, who made her Shootout debut. “It’s fun to play with different girls from other schools, just interact with each other. I think it was a great experience for everyone.”
Skinner played against a number of her teammates before — Christian is a Lakeside Dragon and Jamison plays for the Geneva Eagles — but, other than fellow Falcon Monica Devine, she never teamed up with any prior to Friday.
“I know they’re great players, so just playing with them just made it even better,” Skinner said.
Olavarria — who teamed with Campbell, Pollard, Emily Cevera, Hailee Aguinaga and Alycia Figueroa — played in her third West-Side Shootout.
She said she was a part of the first shootout that included female players a number of years ago.
“It’s fun being able to represent the females around here,” she said. “We’re the ones that started to get females to play.”
As for Friday’s competition, Olavarria said her team was more or less enjoying themselves. Today will be a different story.
“I mean we were not hustling the first game or anything, we were tired,“ she said with a few laughs. “We’ll play defense (today) and do better. We didn’t play much defense today.”
Olavarria’s opponents, meanwhile, will be looking for a sweep.
“I think we all really work well together, even though most of us don’t go to the same school,” Skinner said. “I think it’s just like the flow of it all that’s really great.”
Mike Osborne, who runs the West-Side Shootout with his brother, Bill, said he hopes to begin today’s play with the boys high school tournament around 9:30-9:45 in the morning. The men’s will follow and the ladies championship will be played some time in between.
Prior to play, a ceremony will be held in honor of the late Jaime Presciano.