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Staff Photo / Brian Yauger Mineral Ridge’s Lily Merolillo drives down the lane as a Springfield player defends. The Rams were lost at home, 62-23.

MINERAL RIDGE – The Mineral Ridge and Springfield women’s basketball programs are at the start of a new era.

Springfield, with a familiar roster until last season, has a new coach on the sidelines. Mineral Ridge, on the other hand, has a new trainer as well as an almost entirely new roster.

The Tigers have got off to a good start in this new era, going 5-1 after dominating Mineral Ridge on Thursday, 62-23.

Thursday’s game against the Rams was also started by the Tigers coming out of the gates. Springfield scored 35 points in the first quarter while holding Mineral Ridge down to five.

“We went out as we wanted” Springfield coach John Matisi said. “The pressure on the ground. This is how we want to play. I thought it was such a good first quarter as we have played all year. We want to set the tone and play our tempo, and I think we’ve done it really well tonight.

After that first quarter, however, Mineral Ridge stepped up the defensive side of their game. The Rams upped their pressure and it paid off, limiting the Tigers to 10 points, 11 points and six points over the next three quarters.

However, that wasn’t enough to erase that first-quarter deficit as the Rams fell to 1-5.

New Rams coach Amy Harrison returns home to Mineral Ridge after coaching McDonald’s volleyball.

Harrison was Mineral Ridge’s all-time leading scorer for years, scoring 1,311 points during the ’90s. Now she’s leading the program again, this time from the sidelines. With a new squad, Harrison hopes to give the squad some much-needed experience as they continue to grow stronger.

“I saw good things” she said. “We are super young; we don’t have a lot of experience. With each game, we’re just looking for something to improve. Try to eliminate some turnovers in each game, box a little more. It’s our goal in every game, it’s to gain experience, to do our best and to see what we can improve.

This season, there is a power vacuum in the Scarlet level of the Mahoning Valley Athletic Conference. With teams like McDonald’s and Western Reserve, the two best teams in the league in recent years, graduating from really good senior classes, now is the time for a team like Springfield to hit and have a really good year.

Springfield has already knocked out some tough Crestview, Brookfield and McDonald teams. With an experienced and talented roster, they have a good chance of doing well in the league, but Matisi just wants the team to keep doing what they do best and drop the cards where they can.

“I think we can compete with anyone in the league”, said Matisi. “I don’t think there’s a single great team like McDonald’s or Reserve in recent years. You look at us, there’s Waterloo, Jackson-Milton, Reserve, McDonald’s. I feel that we are all well there. There is no one above our heads. I feel like we can go out and compete every night and have a good chance of winning.

Then the Tigers have another league opponent and travel to Lowellville to take on the Rockets. Mineral Ridge attacks Western Reserve.

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