WEIRTON - Lysiah Rice was a force on both ends of the floor Thursday as Big Red's girls stayed perfect.
The sophomore scored 28 points, collected nine rebounds, recorded five steals and swatted away a couple of shots as Ohio's seventh-ranked Division II squad earned a hard-fought 47-36 victory over Weir inside the Carl Hamill Fieldhouse.
Rice, who scored 20 of her team's 28 first-half points, came up huge in the fourth quarter when the never-say-die Riders cut the Big Red lead to three (37-34) on Raegan Stead's drive to the hoop.
TO THE BASKET — Steubenville’s Lysiah Rice takes a shot against Weir High’s Madison Dalrymple during Thursday’s 47-36 win by Big Red inside the Carl Hamill Fieldhouse. Rice led Steubenville with 28 points, nine rebounds and five steals.
-- Mike Mathison
UP FOR TWO — Weir High’s Lindsey Robinson takes a shot against Steubenville’s Mytia Barker (21) and Lysiah Rice during Thursday’s 47-36 win by Big Red inside the Carl Hamill Fieldhouse.
-- Mike Mathison
She got three the old-fashioned way on Big Red's next offensive trip, scoring the deuce off a Mytia Barker pass. Barker then swished a jumper in the lane before Rice turned her fifth steal into two points. That hoop sealed the deal for Phil Casinelli's now 13-0 club.
"Lysiah is all over the ball for us," Casinelli said of Rice, who scored the winning points in Big Red's 50-48 win over Weir earlier in the season. "She rebounds for us; she gets a lot of steals and does a lot defensively.
"We try to get her the ball offensively. If she doesn't get that entrance pass, she is going to clean up the rebound. She scored 28 and that was a big 28 for us tonight."
Rice's performance prompted Weir's Bill Smith to say "she's a handful. She definitely was the difference tonight."
Thanks to 10 Rice points (her first four came following steals), Big Red held a 17-9 lead after the opening frame. She scored the final six of the second stanza, putting the visitors ahead 28-17 at the intermission. The Big Red advantage stood at nine (35-26) heading into the final eight minutes.
Weir (2-8) closed to within four (36-32) with 6:20 remaining thanks to a pair of Maddie Dalrymple free throw makes. Rice went one for two from the line before Stead's bucket. Emiley Masloski, seeing her first action since Dec. 5, drilled two free tosses to close the scoring.
Masloski is now just 25 markers away from reaching 1,000 points for her career.
"We felt we didn't play our best game tonight," Casinelli stated. "Not to take anything away from Weir. They did some things that made us uncomfortable, definitely. They caused a lot of our problems with their defense.
"We were not happy with the performance of our girls. We missed assignments and missed passes. Our half-court defense was not good. We were letting them get the basket way too much. In the second half alone, they got to the rim five or six times without any help defense stepping up."
Barker added eight points for Big Red and matched Rice with nine boards. Taylor Young contributed six.
"We did enough to win," Casinelli continued. "Our defense responded well late in the game when they cut the lead to three. We stepped up well in our half-court man defense and were able to get a rebound the push the ball.
"We talked to the girls about being complacent and realizing that every night is a new night if you don't come ready to play, you're going to take one on the chin. Overall, we have to be a better team progressing forward."
Stead's 16 points paced the Riders. She also had a team-high seven rebounds. Alyssa Shingle finished with 11 and Ashlynn Drizake six.
"We got to within three late but again, we have to take care of the basketball (Weir was charged with 26 turnovers)," Smith pointed out. "On top of that, we didn't rebound especially well (Big Red won the rebounding battle 34-22).
"There were times when I thought we played pretty well. In girls basketball, if you rebound and make your layups and putbacks, you'll win some ball games. I'm not sure how many of those we missed tonight."
Big Red returns to action Monday with a home game against Catholic Central. Weir will host the Crusaders on Tuesday and Madonna on Thursday (the annual city championship game).
Steubenville 47, Weir 36
Big Red 17 11 7 12 - 47
Weir 9 8 9 10 - 36
BIG RED (13-0): E. Masloski 0 2-2 2; H. Masloski 0 0-0 0; Young 1 3-4 6; Wilson 1 0-2 2; Barker 2 4-6 8; Rice 11 6-10 28; Bodo 0 1-2 1; Taylor 0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 15 16-26 47. 3-pointers: Young. Rebounds: 34 (Rice 9; Barker 9); Turnovers: 22.
WEIR HIGH (2-8): Wolverton 0 0-0 0; Stead 6 4-4 16; Shingle 5 0-0 11; Drizake 2 2-2 6; Dalrymple 0 2-2 2; Robinson 0 1-2 1; Dobosz 0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 13 9-10 37. 3-pointers: Shingle; Rebounds: 22 (Stead 7); Turnovers: 26.