STEUBENVILLE - Big Red's girls basketball team honored its five seniors prior to the start of Monday's game against Youngstown East inside the Crimson Center.
Once play began, a trio of underclassmen made sure the event was a success.
Sophomores Lysiah Rice and Hannah Masloski along with junior Taylor Young combined for 32 points as the Lady Red rolled to a 54-41 victory.
BASELINE — Steubenville Big Red’s Dominique Wilson drives the baseline against Youngstown East’s Labreah Hilton during the first half of Big Red’s 54-41 victory. Steubenville wrapped up the No. 1 seed in the Class 4A division of the OVAC?Tournament next week.
-- Mike Mathison
With the victory, Phil Casinelli's state-ranked club moves to 18-1 on the season. Big Red, the defending champion, also clinched the top seed for next week's OVAC Class 4A playoffs.
Senior Abby Taylor gave Big Red the lead for good when she started the game by swishing a trifecta. Rice scored six first-quarter points (four coming on coast-to-coast layups). Casinelli's crew led 15-7 after one.
Young had a hand in six of Big Red's seven second-stanza markers. She canned a jumper to start the frame then assisted on buckets by Rice and senior Dominque Wilson. The hosts were up 22-12 at the break.
Taylor's second triple of the evening along with points by Rice, Masloski and Young helped Big Red stretch its margin to 13 (34-21) heading into the fourth.
Masloski and Rice combined for 11 tallies as Big Red built a 20-point advantage during the final frame. A Tenia Barker triple put the score at 50-27 before Casinelli emptied his bench.
Rice finished with a double-double (17 points and 14 rebounds). She also recorded six steals. Young contributed eight markers to go with three assists and steals. Masloski added seven.
"They wanted to send our seniors off the right way," Casinelli said of the performance by his underclassmen. "We talked before the game about them playing hard for our seniors.
"We'll get our points from whomever is scoring any particular night. It seems like we have a different scorer each game. As long as we get that team effort, we'll be OK."
Taylor and Wilson divided 12 points for Big Red while senior Mytia Barker chipped in with five.
"We did a little better offensively in the second half (Big Red scored 32 after the break)," Casinelli added. "Coach (Mark) Masloski talked at halftime about being more patient on offense, moving the ball a little more and moving their zone. We were getting better looks inside in the second half.
"Defensively, we stayed the same. I thought we did a good job tonight with our half-court defense (Big Red recorded 11 steals)."
Labreah Hilton scored 11 to pace coach Levon Lamb's Lady Panthers. Aaliyah Brown and Courtney Turner had seven each. Big Red earned a 48-47 win over East back in December.
M. Barker, Wilson, Taylor, Brittany Bodo and 1,000 point scorer Emiley Masloski were recognized during the senior night ceremony. E. Masloski did not play due to a shoulder injury.
"They (the seniors) are a special group," Casinelli stated. "I hate to see any of them graduate and leave. It has been an honor to coach all of them. It makes my job easier to have a group like that.
"They all worked hard and they are very good student-athletes. They're involved in a lot of school activities as well as other sports. They work hard during the season they're in. I couldn't be more proud of the success they are having during their senior year. That's a credit to their work ethic."
Big Red, which topped Martins Ferry 45-36 a season ago to earn the Class AAAA title, will open OVAC play next Monday. Union Local is the likely semifinal opponent.
"The number one seed wasn't really our goal but we definitely wanted a home game," Casinelli explained. "We're happy to have a home game and we're looking forward to it."
The Lady Red returns to the hardwood Wednesday, hosting Imani Christian Academy. The varsity tip is set for 6 p.m.
Big Red 54, Youngstown East 41
East 7 5 9 20 - 41
Big Red 15 7 12 20 - 54
YOUNGSTOWN EAST (1-15): Withers 2 1-2 5; Berry 1 0-0 2; Hilton 5 1-2 11; Z. Brown 2 1-2 5; A. Brown 3 1-2 7; Turner 3 0-0 7; Muns 1 2-5 4. TOTALS: 17 6-13 41. 3-pointers: Turner. Rebounds 29 (A. Brown 8); Turnovers 18.
BIG RED (18-1): Porter 0 0-0 0; H. Masloski 3 0-0 7; Young 4 0-0 8; T. Barker 1 0-0 3; Wilson 2 2-2 6; M. Barker 2 1-2 5; Rice 8 1-2 17; Bodo 1 0-0 2; Taylor 2 0-0 6; Herrin 0 0-0 0; Petrisko 0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 23 4-6 54. 3-pointers: Taylor 2; H. Masloski; T. Barker. Rebounds: 31 (Rice 14); Turnovers: 17.