by Frank Aceto | Associate Sports Editor
There were a few frowns and a few tears.
But Streetsboro fourth-year head girls basketball coach Allison Carey would have none of it.
The Rockets had too strong of a season to be this upset.
In the long run, though, they just wish it didn't end so quickly.
Seventh-seeded Streetsboro lost a 66-52 decision to third-seeded Struthers in an Austintown Fitch Division II sectional title contest Feb. 20 on the road.
With the loss, the Rockets finished 15-8. The win total is a school record.
"They were disappointed after the game," Carey said. "But I told them to keep their heads high. Before the game, I told them to embrace the moment. This was the first time in a decade that Streetsboro came into the tourney with a winning record."
The Wildcats jumped out to a 9-0 lead, thanks to a trio of 3-pointers by star guard McKenna Shives. Struthers had a 24-13 lead after the first eight minutes.
At one point, the Wildcats were up 30-13 until Streetsboro showed some life late in the first half. Struthers' advantage was 13 (33-20) at halftime.
"We went into the tournament having a chance to win the game," Carey said. "But if this was going to be our last game, we were going to have fun doing it. At halftime, I told them that they looked like they weren't having any fun and it wasn't fun watching them."
The Rockets got the message.
Streetsboro found its offense and stormed back into the game. The Wildcats' lead was just four (44-40) heading into the final period.
"We made some corrections and the girls came out on fire in terms of the game plan," Carey said.
The Rockets managed to hang with Struthers for much of the fourth quarter, but the Wildcats pulled away in the end.
Ashley Ryan led Struthers with a game-high 26 points and Shives finished with 19 points.
"Ashley is a 5-foot-11 guard who defended our post players and played on the perimeter," Carey said. "She's a tall, athletic guard."
Senior Marra Woods led Streetsboro with 13 points. She also finished with nine rebounds.
"You could tell that Marra was playing like it was her last game of her senior year," Carey said. "She was phenomenal."
Alison Targosky added 12 points and 11 rebounds and Lindsay Washinski buried four 3-pointers on her way to 12 points.
"Lindsay hit a 3 when we were kind of in our drought and then she hit a 3 at the buzzer in the first quarter," Carey said.
Taylor Tuma also had 10 points for the Rockets, who made huge strides after struggling mightily early in the game.
"If we could just wipe out the first four minutes, we could have been closer than 12 points," Carey said. "Struthers is a good team, but we came out more nervous than anything.
"This is a game we thought we could win. Every other year, we knew we were the underdog. That's why we usually had close games because other teams looked down at us. This time, I think all the nerves and the pressure got to us."
Woods, who recently was chosen to play in the Women's Tri County Basketball Coaches Association Portage-Summit game, and fellow seniors Amy Hatfield and Rachel Murphy concluded their careers at Streetsboro.
"Marra was my only captain, but all three seniors knew what it took to be leaders," Carey said. "I told the seniors to tell the younger kids to keep the tradition going. We want to come out next year and win more than 15 games. We want the girls and the community to know that we can be a winning program."