Monday night brought plenty of premier matchups on the network, including a battle of two unbeatens inside The Mahoning Valley Athletic Conference (MVAC) Scarlet Division, with The Waterloo Vikings hosting The Springfield Tigers. Both squads were sporting a 5-0 conference record going into Monday, meaning this game had major conference implications on the line. Last season, Springfield fell in both contests against The Vikings by a combined seven points in two games and with both squads returning all their key pieces, a lot of excitement surrounds their two matchups this year.
The Tigers recognized the importance of getting an early lead and wasted no time to jump out in front with a 6-0 run early on in the first quarter. Springfield’s Jameka Brungard established her presence in the paint and was set to matchup with Vikings star Kaira English. Waterloo had a counterpunch ready in the first quarter, knotting the game up 10-10, before Jacey Mullen converted a bucket to give Springfield a 12-10 lead after one. This led to an offensive drought for both teams in the second with defense taking precedence; however, The Tigers maintained control winning the quarter 6-5 and holding an 18-15 lead at halftime.
Out of the half, Springfield started getting key contributions from other players, with Marianna Tuscano and Ava Vecchione starting to find their rhythm in the second half. Allowing The Tigers to distance themselves a bit from Waterloo, controlling the lead 28-21 after three quarters of play. Rose Couts and Kaira English kept fighting for scores, despite offensive struggles on the night for The Vikes. Shots from the arc were not falling with the frequency Waterloo has been used to recently, forcing them to get creative in their scoring opportunities. The Tigers could smell the sole control of first place within their paws; however, needed to close out the final eight minutes to ensure their lead in The MVAC. English continued to find scores, fighting through double and triple-teams on the post, to the tune of 19 points on the night. But a balanced Tigers offense saw Vecchione and Tuscano put on the cape for some big shots from distance to help maintain the lead for Springfield. A 20 point fourth quarter allowed The Tigers stay undefeated in the conference, closing out the ballgame with a 48-36 win over Waterloo! The Player of The Game honors went to Springfield senior Jacey Mullen, for her ability to get key baskets throughout the night that put a stop to several Viking scoring runs.
Following the loss, Waterloo (9-5)(5-1) will stay in conference action, hosting Lowellville (7-7)(2-4) on Thursday, January 12th. For Springfield (10-1)(6-0) they will look to keep their undefeated conference streak alive, traveling to McDonald (4-7)(1-4) in a bout with The Blue Devils, also on Thursday. Interviews with Springfield Head Coach John Matisi and Player of The Game Jacey Mullen can be found below!
*Contributed By YSN’s Ty Bartell