MINERAL RIDGE — Both Mineral Ridge and Springfield’s girls basketball programs are in the beginning of a new era.
Springfield, with a familiar roster to last season, has a new coach on its sidelines. Mineral Ridge, on the other hand, has a new coach as well as a roster that is almost entirely new..
The Tigers have gotten out to a hot start in this new era, accumulating a 5-1 record after topping Mineral Ridge on Thursday, 62-23.
Thursday’s game against the Rams was also kickstarted by the Tigers coming hot out of the gates. Springfield scored 35 points in the opening quarter while holding Mineral Ridge to five.
“We came out like we wanted to,” Springfield coach John Matisi said. “Pressure running the floor. That’s how we want to play. I thought that was as good of a first quarter as we’ve played all year. We want to set the tone and play our tempo, and I thought we really did that well tonight.”
After that first quarter, however, Mineral Ridge stepped up the defensive side of its game. The Rams upped their pressure and it paid off, limiting the Tigers to 10 points, 11 points and six points in the following three quarters.
It wasn’t enough to erase that first-quarter deficit however, as the Rams fell to 1-5.
New Rams coach Amy Harrison returns home to Mineral Ridge after coaching volleyball at McDonald.
Harrison was the all-time leading scorer at Mineral Ridge for years, tallying 1,311 points during the 90s. Now she guides the program once again, this time from the sidelines. With a fresh roster, Harrison is hoping to get the team some much-needed experience as they continue to build back up.
“I saw some good things,” she said. “We’re super young; we don’t have a whole lot of experience. Each game we’re just looking for something to improve. Try to eliminate some turnovers each game, box out a little bit more. That’s our goal in every game is getting experience, putting our best foot forward and seeing what we can improve on.”
This season, there’s a bit of a power vacuum in the Scarlet Tier of the Mahoning Valley Athletic Conference. With teams like McDonald and Western Reserve, the top two teams in the league for the last few years, graduating very good senior classes, now is the time for a team like Springfield to strike and have a very good year.
Springfield has already taken down some very tough teams Crestview, Brookfield and McDonald. With an experienced and talented roster, they have a good shot of doing well in the league, but Matisi just wants the team to keep doing what they do best and let the cards fall where they may.
“I think we can compete with anyone in the league,” Matisi said. “I don’t think there’s one great team like McDonald or Reserve the last couple years. You look at us, there’s Waterloo, Jackson-Milton, Reserve, McDonald. I feel we’re all right there. There’s no one hanging over our heads. I feel like we can come out and compete every night and have a good chance of winning.”
Up next, the Tigers have another league opponent and travel to Lowellville to take on the Rockets. Mineral Ridge takes on Western Reserve.