WELLSVILLE - Even when the Western Reserve girls basketball team cooled off like the weather outside, the Blue Devils remain red hot this season.
The Blue Devils fought off the challenge of Wellsville to get the 54-44 victory on Thursday.
The Blue Devils are 8-3 overall and 6-0 in the Inter-Tri County league lower tier as the season reaches the midway point.
Tied 31-31 at halftime, defense became the Blue Devils' strongsuit, forcing many fouls and turnovers as junior Aleah Hughes scored a game-high 20 points.
Hughes was happy to see her team with the contribution, which also included Rachel Maslach for 10 points and five rebounds and Tory White with nine points.
"We just needed to dominate in the second half big time," Hughes said. "We had to step up together. It couldn't just be me, we all had to work together, and tonight we did our part."
Blue Devils coach Steve Miller knows very well the team has something special in Hughes.
"Hughes is a monster for the team," Miller said. "The difference is recognizable when she is on the court. With scoring and rebounding, she has just been dominant."
Compared to recent games, Hughes acknowledged that Thursday's win wasn't the best game for the Blue Devils.
"Our defense went downhill, and the tempo wasn't quite what our potential was," Hughes said. "Second half, we told our defense, we have to pick it up and play better."
While the team struggled at the foul line, shooting for only 45 percent, Miller also noticed a vibe that wasn't the most positive.
"Some of us at times looked like we didn't want to be here," Miller said. "I saw the frustration and the look in the girls' eyes in the locker room after the game, and I know they're happy with the win, but at the same time we're glad to be done."
For as much as the Blue Devils underperformed, the Tigers (6-4, 3-3 ITCL) couldn't catch a break after the second half after a strong first-half performance.
Despite a strong second quarter performance by Sabrina Thompson, who led the Tigers with 10 points, they struggled to keep possession of the ball.
"I don't think we shot enough in the second half," Wellsville coach Ed Swogger said. "We should've been getting the ball to the rim more, and we didn't. It wasn't due to lack of effort. It was due to lack of execution."
Swogger felt much better in the first half as the Tigers were deadlocked with the Blue Devils, but feels the need to fine tune the game.
"Getting down the floor on the offensive end, we did better in the first half," Swogger said. "I didn't think we ran out of gas, but our ball transistion was much better in the first half. We're definitely not in panic mode, we just need to work on what we've been doing."
Western Reserve also won the junior varsity game, 36-31.
Heather Lude led the Blue Devils with 11 points. Destiny Crow and Rasheeda Kalam scored six for the Tigers.
The Blue Devils remain on the road to face off against another strong ITCL opponent in Lowellville Monday. The Tigers also hit the road Monday to battle McDonald.
W. RESERVE: 18-13-13-10-54
WELLSVILLE: 13-18- 7- 6-44
WESTERN RESERVE SCORING: Sydney Miller 0-1-1, Lauren Falasca 0-1-1, Baylee Harley 0-0-0, Bethany Burger 1-0-2, Rachel Maslach 4-2-10, Paige Ewing 3-1-7, Taylor Kilbert 1-0-2, Tory White 3-1-9, Gabby Stubbs 1-0-2, Aleah Hughes 7-4-20. TOTALS: 20, 10-23: 54.
WELLSVILLE SCORING: Sabring Thompson 4-1-10, Brittany Clendenning 3-0-6, Shartece Taylor 3-0-7, Kallee Powell 3-0-7, Kira Kelley 1-0-2, Destiny Crow 2-2-6, Ashley Bennett 3-0-6. TOTALS: 19, 3-5: 44.
Three-pointers: Western Reserve 4 (Hughes 2, White 2), Wellsville 3 (Powell, Taylor, Thompson).