Four or perhaps all five of the girls basketball teams could spend much of the regular season knocking each other off.
Monday night at Rootstown, the PCL's defending champ and preseason favorite, Mogadore, righted itself from a loss to Woodridge Wednesday by disposing of the Rovers 60-48.
The Wildcats (2-3, 2-1 PCL) overcame a slow start and used a strong third-quarter effort to pull away from the Rovers.
Ahead by only three points coming out of the intermission (26-23), Mogadore's defense forced 10 third-quarter turnovers, enabling the Wildcats to outscore the Rovers 16-7 and take command of the contest.
"The difference between this game and Woodridge was that we worked hard," said Mogadore coach George Tompkins. "There was about three or four minutes where we didn't work hard, but the rest of the game, every girl that was out there was working hard.
"They (Rootstown) were always under some sort of pressure _ even if we weren't pressuring fullcourt _ halfcourt, they were having trouble. If we would have worked that hard against Woodridge, we would have beat them."
Michelle Tompkins' three-point play and her ensuing basket extended the Wildcats' edge to 38-30 with under three minutes remaining in the third quarter. A Jen McHood layup at 1:27 gave Mogadore a 42-30 lead going into the final period.
While coach Tompkins credited his team's work ethic, Rootstown coach Paulette Colantone also pointed to the Wildcats' hustle and her squad's lack thereof as a major factor in the Rovers' demise.
"They killed us on loose balls," she said, adding that in the second half Mogadore held an 18-10 edge in corralling free balls. "Once the ball was fumbled, they (Mogadore) got it seven out of 10 times, basically, and that's what hurt us.
"The second thing that hurt us _ and it was in our gameplan _ was to get defensive boards. We just didn't get them and you can't give Mogadore second and third shots. They don't miss bunny shots. They don't miss anything under the hoop (to) five foot."
Rootstown (2-3, 1-2) narrowed the gap to 48-41 on a Melissa Colecchi 3-pointer with just under five minutes left and twice trimmed the Mogadore lead to six, the last time at 54-48 on an Ashley Rykaceski basket with 57 ticks left.
Michelle Tompkins then missed a pair of free throws, but Mogadore's Jen Lutz got the carom, was fouled, and subsequently hit two foul shots to ice the contest.
Colecchi scored eight of her team-high 17 points in the first quarter, helping the Rovers to a 12-9 edge after eight minutes.
Rootstown continued to lead for much of the second period until a McHood layup off a Rover miscue gave Mogadore its first lead of the night at 24-23.
Val Cubon added 15 points for the Rovers and Rykaceski popped in 10.
Michelle Tompkins sparked the Wildcats with 13 points. Shanna Tabatcher had 12 and Michelle's younger sister, Tiffany, chipped in with nine.