COLUMBIANA - At the opposite end of the Inter-Tri County League upper tier spectrum, Columbiana and United have had boys basketball seasons to forget this school year.
Both were winless coming into Friday's meeting at Columbiana and both scoring averages were nothing to write home about. While turnovers, fundamental errors and poor shooting did not disappear, the winless mark of Columbiana did.
The Clippers saw a 12-point third quarter lead almost vanish in the fourth quarter as the team managed just seven field goals in a 30-29 victory over the Eagles.
Columbiana (1-8, 1-4) broke a 12-game losing streak and earned its first win at home since beating the Eagles there last season.
The win was the first for Columbiana coach Jason Baker and seventh overall in his career (he was 6-36 in two seasons at Austintown Fitch before coming to Columbiana).
"It feels good," Baker said. "The team has worked so hard all year and it's a good thing to celebrate a victory."
Columbiana led 13-12 at the break before opening the third quarter on an 11-0 run. Jake DeJong scored four of his team-high nine points in the frame to get things moving for the Clippers.
"I think we won because we played as a team," the junior forward said.
Baker said the third quarter was the best quarter his team has played all season. The fourth was a different story.
"I think we started playing not to lose," Baker said.
The Clippers did not hit any field goals in the final quarter. They did manage four free throws.
"I think the defense stepped up for us," DeJong said. "As long as we play good defense, we don't need to score."
United (0-9, 0-5) came into the contest averaging 29 points per game.
"We missed around a dozen or more right within 5 feet of the hoop," United coach Matt Mowery said. "If you can't hit those shots you're going to lose."
The fact that Columbiana made seven shots from the field also struck a nerve with the Eagles' coach.
"If you hold a team to just seven makes from the field, 99 percent of the time you're going to win," Mowery said.
United closed in late to put themselves in a position to steal a win. A Brett Albright bucket with 40 seconds to go pulled the Eagles within a point. Doug Covert, who had eight rebounds, then forced a turnover and United had the ball with 30 seconds left. The Eagles got off two shots in that time frame - the last an Albright jumper from the top of the key as time expired - but garnered nothing from it.
Caleb Conser was the top scorer with with 10 points.