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Running with the Devils

17-3 Western Reserve eyeing district title

February 15, 2012
B.J. LISKO - Salem News Sports Editor ( , Salem News

Four years ago, at the same time Josh Scott was hired as the new Western Reserve varsity girls basketball coach, Colleen Kennehan became a freshman. Some 67 wins and more than 1,000 points later, the pair are poised to help lead the Lady Blue Devils on a Division IV tournament run.

Western Reserve finished its regular season 17-3 for the third straight year. In Scott and Kennehan's four seasons together, the team has gone 67-20 and 48-8 in league play. They handed conference foe Lowellville its only league loss in the last four seasons, and they've quietly built an excellent tradition in Berlin Center.

"It's been an awesome experience," Scott said. "Just to watch Colleen grow and mature as a person and player. It's been great to see her excel. Just to have her as a floor general and the way she handles the basketball, it's made life a lot easier."

Kennehan, a four-year letter-winner, has had a standout season as a senior. She has averaged 17.3 points per game, just under 10 assists per game, and she poured in a career-high 31 against Wellsville back in January where she also tallied a triple-double.

"She sets the tone every day," Scott said. "She works hard. She shows up and her goal is to win the basketball game, no matter what she has to do. We've told her this year we can't scale it back. She's really bought into that and has been consistent that way."

Kennehan is eagerly awaiting the start of tournament play. The Lady Blue Devils open their post-season against Mineral Ridge Saturday.

"This team probably has more potential than any team I've been on," Kennehan said. "We're definitely capable of cutting down the nets which is our ultimate goal. I don't think we realize how awesome we can be."

Western Reserve will need to reach that potential if it wants to be crowned district champions. The Lady Blue Devils lost twice to state-ranked Lowellville this season, and the third loss came early in the year to Crestview. If Reserve beats Ridge and then drops Southern Thursday, Feb. 23, it would likely set up a re-match with the Lady Rebels. A win there would almost certainly set up Western Reserve-Lowellville round three.

"Lowellville is a very good team and I give them all the credit in the world," Kennehan said. "We would just have to play good, solid defense (to win). That would make it a fair game. It is possible to beat them."

Scott thinks so too, even though the Lady Rockets have been his nemesis since he arrived. Of Western Reserve's eight league losses in the last four years, seven of them have been to Lowellville.

"The big thing we've learned is how hard we have to go against a team like that," Scott said. "It's just a brand new level they bring. You can't take a possession off against a great team like that. If we get that third chance, we can definitely give ourselves a chance to win."

Kennehan certainly isn't alone in the quest.

Two very familiar faces are teammates Hannah Mowery and Sissy Stubbs. The senior trio, along with juniors Linley Mamonis, Taylor Kilbert and April Lude, sophomore Paige Ewing and freshmen Rachel Maslach and Tory White have spread the wealth all season long.

"We're all pretty close on and off the court," Kennehan said. "We all have different roles. Hannah is more the vocal leader. And everyone respects and follows Sissy. We all have one goal."

Regardless if the Lady Blue Devils reach the pinnacle of a district title, they've already accomplished a great deal and have changed the perception of girls basketball in Berlin Center.

"People are starting to realize we're good," Kennehan said. "Our program is taken very seriously now."

"We could be something very special," she said.

Thing is, they already are.

Western Reserve opens tournament play 4 p.m. Saturday against Mineral Ridge at South Range High School.



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