Long and Witmer power Columbiana to a tournament victory over Ursuline


The Clippers get revenge for an early season loss to the Irish

COLUMBIANA, OHIO (WKBN) – The third-seeded Columbiana Clippers put three players in double digits in route to their 54-43 win over the sixth-seeded Ursuline Irish in a Division III Sectional Championship game.  The Clippers, who improve to 17-7, will now face the second-seeded South Range Raiders Wednesday night at the Struthers Fieldhouse at 6:00 PM.

The win was also a little bit of revenge from earlier this season.  Back in December, the Irish beat the Clippers soundly by a 49-30 score.

“Our coaches talked about that feeling when we walked out of their gym and how we felt,” Clippers junior guard Grace Witmer explained.  “We wanted to make them feel how we felt when we walked out of there.  It was our time to show what we were made of.”

“We knew we didn’t play our best.  We knew we were better than what we showed and we wanted to come out and show them who we are,” Clippers sophomore guard Tori Long added.

“We knew Columbiana was a good team and maybe they had a bad game and we had a good game.  We knew coming into today, that game didn’t mean much.  In general, two good teams, one day going good for somebody and the next day it’s going good for the other,” Irish coach Michael Kernan stated.

Usually, for the Clippers their standout guard Kayla Muslovski leads them in the scorebook, but on Saturday it was the combination of Witmer and Long who helped propel the Clippers to victory.  Long would score 13 with 7 rebounds, Witmer would match her with 13, while Muslovski would add 11.  Madison Moser grabbed 11 rebounds to lead the Clippers on the boards.

“Early on, it was Kayla and Grace Hammond, Kayla and Grace Hammond.  But the bottom line is that we are more than just two girls.  So we have some kids that can score and we challenge them all to try to take shots and score.  Hats off to the ones that were scoring because now they are trying to find other people.  It makes us better,” Clippers coach David Crismon remarked.

The Clippers got off to a fast start as they began the contest with a 17-6 run helped by three treys by Long, Witmer, and Muslovski.  They would hold a 17-10 lead at the end of the frame.

The Clippers would build an 11-point advantage at 27-16 at the 2:57 mark of the second quarter following a steal and basket by Muslovski.  But the Irish responded with a 9-5 run helped by a three by Cara McNally and a basket with only 4 seconds remaining in the half by Anisah Moorman to make it 32-25 in favor of the Clippers at intermission.

Crismon explained why the fast start was so important, “Ursuline is a nemesis, for a lot of teams.  But for Columbiana, they have eliminated us at District level, Sectional level, and I don’t care how young they are or how much their rebuilding, it’s still Ursuline.  So once we established that we could score, I knew that start would help propel us.”

“It was huge,” Long added about how important the Clippers start was on the game.  “It is our goal to get to the Districts, and we knew we had to come out on fire.”

The Clippers started the second half much like the first as they began the quarter with an 8-0 run to increase their lead to a game-high 14-points at the 5:30 mark of the third period.  Once again, the Irish would fight back as they closed the quarter with an 8-3 run to cut the deficit down to 9-points at 43-34 at the end of the frame.

“You know the other team is going to be desperate. They are going to come after you. We rattled off four to six straight points and it wasn’t on me, it was on them (Clippers team). That was the story of the game,” Crismon explained.

The Irish would then cut the gap down to just 6-points 17 seconds into the fourth quarter when McNally nailed her second three-pointer to make it 43-37.  But the Clippers would not let the Irish get any closer as they would go on to outscore the Irish 9-6 to close the game.

The Irish, who close the season with a 9-15 record, was led by Paris Gilmore and Moorman with 13 points apiece.  Emily Smith and Gilmore each grabbed 7 rebounds to pace the Irish on the boards, while Moorman added 6.

“We have a pretty good three-point shooting team.  I felt that if we were within two or three shots, were in the game.  We didn’t feel it was a huge difference, but we just never really strung it all together.  Any time we made some sort of little run they answered with a shot, and we were just never were able to put things back to back or string things together.  It just never happened,” Kernan concluded.

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