Martins Ferry rookie head coach Lindsay Coyne knew her team's shots would eventually fall.
However, she wanted to make sure her team realized that it had to match Bellaire's level of intensity and desire.
She, evidently, got her point across loud and clear at halftime.
MARTINS FERRY’S Ashlei Ray goes up for a shot against Bellaire’s Aubrey Ryan during their game Monday night in Bellaire. Ray scored 20 points and the Lady Riders posted a 56-44 victory. Additional images may be found at cu.timesleaderonline.com
The Lady Riders turned up their play on both ends of the floor in the third quarter and they ended up turning a 1-point halftime lead into a 56-44 victory against the Lady Reds Monday evening on Guernsey Street.
"I told the girls that Bellaire was a good, scrappy team that competes hard," Coyne said. "We had to go out just like that and play hard. We need to play hard day in and day out. We can't afford to take a half off. We have to compete well every time out."
The victory improves the Lady Riders to 3-0, while Coach Marci's Bonar's scrappy Lady Reds dropped their third straight since opening the season with a win.
"We did a great job on defense in the first half, but in the second half, we fouled a little bit too much and they made foul shots," Bonar said. "These girls play hard and no one who watches us can say we don't give everything we have, so I can't fault that, but like I told the girls, 'we have to be able to score.'"
Scoring was not a real issue for the Lady Riders since they have, in essence, two go-to-players to score the basketball. Both - Ashlei Ray and Jessica Kinney - stepped up when their team needed it most.
The Lady Riders, who were 1-of-11 from the line in the first half, extended their lead by scoring 20 points in the third. Ray went for 10 of her 20 in the third and Kinney added six.
Bellaire, which fell behind by nine early in the third, got a triple from freshman Nina Crook to make it a 31-27 reading, but the Lady Riders scored 10 of the game's next 12 and eventually led, 41-31, after three chapters.
"We have to get to the point where someone starts to step up and makes shots and scores for us," Bonar said. "It's a work-in-progress for us. Our effort and desire is there, so now we just have to score better."
The Lady Riders proceeded to outscore Bellaire, 15-13 in the fourth and never allowed them to get the deficit under 10.
"The girls stepped up when we needed it," Coyne said. "I've seen improvement already from this team. Except for the first half, their heart and hustle is always there. You can't be mad at a team when they give 110 percent."
Ray's production was complemented by Kinney's 19. Senior Megan Rose turned in a solid floor game with eight points despite battling foul trouble.
"Ashlei Ray is just ruthless," Coyne said. "She's a tough, physical kid who competes all the time. She and Jess do really well with ball screens and they look for each other."
Bellaire was paced in the scoring column by steady senior Myleah Green's 18. Kierstyn Kidder and Cari Crozier went for nine and eight, respectively.
The Lady Reds return to the court Thursday at Indian Creek. Martins Ferry, meanwhile, takes on Buckeye Local the same evening.
Martins Ferry also captured its jayvee debut for the season as well.
MARTINS FERRY (56) - Kinney 8, 3-6 19; Ray 9, 2-6 20; Suriano 1, 1-3 3; K. Stalder 2, 0-2 4; M. Stalder 1, 0-1 2; Lee 0, 0-0 0; Rose 2, 4-6 8; DeLeonardis 0, 0-0 0; King 0, 0-0 0; Oberdick 0, 0-1 0; Schell 0, 0-0 0; Staats 0, 0-0 0; Totals: 23, 10-25 56. BELLAIRE (44) - Crozier 3, 2-5 8; Kidder 2, 4-6 9; Green 5, 7-9 18; Ryan 0, 0-1 0; Crook 3, 0-0 7; Gillespie 0, 0-0 0; Messenger 0, 2-2 2; Totals: 13, 15-23 44.
Three-Point Goals: MF - None. Bellaire - Kidder, Green, Crook.