LOWELLVILLE - The 1,000-point club banner hangs above the scoreboard in the Lowellville High School gym, and although no Rocket added her name to the list Thursday night, it forebode the milestone Lordstown's Sarah Cash reached.
At the 2:06 mark in the first quarter of Lordstown's 48-46 win over Lowellville, the junior hit the first of two free throws to record her 1,000th career point, stopping the game. The game ball went to the Lordstown side, she received a quick hug from her coach Dave Smith and Cash set up to shoot as the crowd gave her a standing ovation.
"It feels the same as yesterday," Cash said of reaching the plateau.
Tribune Chronicle / Dave Dermer
Lordstown’s Sarah Cash (20)?looks to the basket after weaving between Lowellville’s Kaye Solak (4), Rachel Durbin (31) and Sam Chiclowe (23). Cash scored her 1,000th career point on Thursday night.
The Lordstown fans weren't the only ones cheering - Cash even received a standing ovation from the Lowellville fans.
"We've got some very knowledgeable fans," Lowellville coach Tony Matisi said. "They understand what it takes to get 1,000 (points). She's tough to guard. She poses a problem."
For Cash and the Red Devils, however, they were glad to get it out of the way early in the game.
"I know it was on a lot of people's minds," Lordstown coach Dave Smith said. "It was definitely (good) to get that out of the way and let us do what we needed to do and play the game."
As much as Lordstown (8-0) wanted to focus on the game following Cash's accomplishment, the team seemed deflated from that point.
The Rockets (6-1) dominated the first half from then on, taking a five-point deficit and turning it into a 10-point lead into halftime. Lowellville held Cash to one basket before the end of the first quarter and kept her scoreless in the second. The Rockets double teamed Cash anytime she got the ball, forcing other Lordstown players to carry the load offensively.
That hurt the Red Devils, who already lost point guard Ally Hajnasz to a broken foot in the team's win on Dec. 17 against Bristol. Lordstown started to throw the ball around and committed eight turnovers in the second quarter, 15 in the entire first half.
"In the first half, we had some major problems taking care of the ball," Smith said. "It's a big loss losing our point guard with a broken foot."
In the second half, Lordstown cut down on the turnovers and came roaring back.
The Red Devils started off with an 11-2 run to pull within three points halfway through the quarter. After the Rockets pushed the lead back out to eight points, Lordstown clawed back to be down one point going into the final frame.
"I knew we had the talent and the ability to come back, but mindset... I didn't know," Smith said. "When (Lowellville) put out a (10-point) lead and when they went on a (7-0) run, I didn't know if the girls would give up, but they gave a lot of heart and kept at it."
Lordstown controlled much of the fourth quarter, jumping out to a five-point lead with four minutes remaining, but two 3-pointers set up for a dramatic finish.
With .6 seconds remaining and Lordstown up two points, Lowellville inbound the ball to Madison Opritza, who put up a shot from beyond the arc right before the buzzer. The shot rimmed out and fell to the floor, leaving the Red Devils with the win.
The fact that the shot didn't fall left coaches and players wondering how the shot didn't connect.
"I had the perfect view" Matisi said. "I was sitting right (on the bench behind Opritza), I saw her square up and I saw it leave her hand and the buzzer goes off. It's right on line... How did it come out? But what a great game."
This game marked the second consecutive game in which the Red Devils played and beat previously undefeated teams. The Red Devils are looking for this experience to help come mid-February.
"I feel that it looks better that we've played better teams now instead of easy teams during the season," Cash said. "It's better to get the pressure now so that when tournaments come, we're prepared for it."