COLUMBIANA - The United Eagles girls basketball team pulled out a 44-21 win over Columbiana despite being down two of their top scorers.
"We had a couple injuries this week that we're working through," United (8-3, 5-0) coach Sam Mathias said. "We've had a couple younger players step up tonight and fill some holes. It was nice to see them do that."
Senior Ruth Prosko sat out with a knee injury attained during practice. It's not yet known what the extent of her injury is or when she will return.
As for junior Emily Zehentbauer, she dressed but did not get playing time because of a bruise on the bottom of her foot.
"She should be back here tomorrow," Mathias said. "It was just a precautionary thing where she could have played tonight if we wanted her to, but why risk hurting it even more when we can get her healthy and have her the rest of the season?"
Although Mathias was down two Eagles, he had sophomore Mackenzie Gatchel return before Christmas from a broken ankle that kept her on the bench for the beginning of the season.
"It feels good to be back with all the girls and playing again," Gatchel said.
The Eagles were a strong team without herself, Gatchel said, but watching from the sidelines was the most difficult part about her injury.
Fully recovered with an OK to play, Gatchel took a couple games to get back up to speed, but she's in game shape now, Mathias said.
Gatchel hardly touched Prosko and Zehentbauer's average game scores with only two points against the Clippers, but she did her part behind the seasons with five assists, three rebounds and an aggressive playing style that kept the Eagles' forward momentum throughout the entire game.
"We got off to a rough start, but she weathered the storm," Mathias said. "Even though she's only a sophomore, she's a leader on the floor for us."
Mathias described her as a hardnosed player who knows how to take a little bit of a beating on the court.
Mathias commended senior Taylor Smith and juniors Cassidy Yoder and Sam Spitler for pulling down rebounds and matching up against Columbiana's top players.
"They did an amazing job tonight," he said.
Yoder led the Eagles with 16 points, 10 rebounds and two steals. Smith and Spitler followed with nine points apiece. Smith also had 10 rebounds and Spitler had six rebounds and three assists.
Clippers coach Jeff Hammond (4-6, 2-3) called United a solid, fundamental team and credited them for playing well.
He also credited his own team for playing with guts and heart.
"We played extremely hard and gave it everything we had," Hammond said. "As a coach, you can't ask for anything more out of your kids. I'm proud of them."
The Clippers played hard and tried to press but couldn't get good passes and had trouble scoring points, he said.
He talked to them about keeping their composure and playing smart basketball.
"The ultimate goal is to get better and better every night out," Hammond said.
United's jayvee team won in over overtime 29-28 after coming from behind to tie the score in the fourth then scoring the winning basket with nine seconds left in the game.
Claudia Rockhold led the Eagles with 10 points. For the Clippers, Lauren Schlueter scored nine points.
Columbiana and United both play Monday Jan. 9. Columbiana travels to Springfield while United hosts Mineral Ridge.
UNITED: 9 5 21 9-44
COLUMBIANA: 3 4 7 7-21
UNITED SCORING: Preslee Johnson 1-0-2, Sam Spitler 4-0-9, Tara Gray 2-0-5, Mackenzie Gatchel 1-0-2, Cassidy Yoder 6-4-16, Taylor Smith 4-1-9, Jenna Plummer 0-1-1, Devon Ritchie 0-0-0, Mackenzie Firth 0-0-0. TOTAL POINTS: 18, 6-13: 44.
COLUMBIANA SCORING: Elaina Kimpel 0-0-0, Lindsey Roncone 0-1-1, Baylie Mook 2-0-4, Aleah Whitacre 0-2-2, Makenzie Logan 0-1-1, Kylea Fullum 1-1-3, Briana Ginger 2-2-6, Megan Cutlip 2-0-4, Sami Stilson 0-0-0. TEAM TOTALS: 7, 7-18: 21.
THREE POINTERS: United 2 (Gray, Spitler).