St. Clairsville has a way of making highly anticipated games look pretty ordinary.
The Red Devils did just that in the second half of Wednesday's OVAC Class 4A showdown with invading Steubenville.
Before a huge crowd, the Red Devils turned a two-point game at the intermission into a 69-43 runaway against Big Red (7-3) on John Jenkins Court.
ST. C. senior Jerrid Marhefka looks for somewhere to go with the ball as Steubenville’s Brandon Herring Hill defends during the first half of Wednesday’s game in St. Clairsville. Additional images may be found at cu.timesleaderonline.com
"I told the team I don't know what that 'it' is, but when you win a lot of games in a lot of different sports, you've got that ability to concentrate and we just played a really good second half," Clifford said.
So what exactly led to the inspired effort in the second half of a back-to-back for the Red Devils (7-1), who routed Bellaire on Tuesday?
"I drew an arrow to the basket up on the board," Clifford said. "We were making fun of what I said at halftime after the game, but it was just a matter of executing basketball things. We needed to block out better and take care of the ball better."
It also certainly didn't hurt St. C.'s cause that it has senior Dan Monteroso on its side. After being held to just nine in the first 16 minutes, Monteroso came alive and Big Red couldn't do much about it.
Monteroso scored 19 points in the second half to finish with 28. He also had 14 rebounds, which were a game high.
The thing that bothered Big Red head coach Mike Haney was how badly the Red Devils' supporting cast hurt his team.
"We had a couple of guys leave their man to help on Monteroso and Carlton, Jeffries and Marhefka got going," Haney said. "They got on a run on us and it went from two to about nine in a hurry. I am disappointed that we didn't play better defense than what we did."
Senior Riley Carlton made a living at the foul line despite being saddled with four personals himself much of the second half. Senior Jerrid Marhefka, who's been struggling a bit offensively, turned in a solid effort with 11 points, including back-to-back buckets in the first half, which ignited the first Devils' spurt.
The Devils' lead had swelled to 12 in the latter portion of the third, but Steubenville scored the final four to end the third and get within eight.
"I thought we made them work hard for everything they got in the first half," Haney said. "In the second half, though, they were getting a lot more easy looks. We did force some turnovers with our press, but we couldn't capitalize and you have to convert those chances against a high-scoring team."
It got no closer, however. Junior Joel Giffin scored along the baseline to begin the fourth and sharpshooter Dylan Campbell dialed long distance from the right corner, which stretched the margin to 13.
"We had some guys really play well," Clifford said. "We feed off of Dan and the other guys played it to perfection. (Steubenville) ran and doubled and those guys got open and knocked down shots. I can't think of a guy who didn't make a nice contribution."
Carlton finished with 17 points, including a 10-of-12 effort at the line.
Big Red was led in the scoring column by Malik Young's 11 and Tajuan Lawson's 10. Senior ace Periogn West, who was hampered by foul trouble much of the night, finished with nine.
St. Clairsville is at home once again on Friday, hosting Union Local.
Steubenville managed a split when it scored the final 10 points in the jayvee game to pull out a 37-34 victory.
STEUBENVILLE (43) - West 4, 1-2 9; Linn 1, 2-2 4; Herring Hill 1, 0-0 3; Lawson 3, 3-4 10; Herrington 0, 0-0 0; Young 4, 3-6 11; Sterling 0, 2-2 2; Smith 1, 0-0 2; Perdue 1, 0-0 2; Totals: 15, 11-16 43. ST. CLAIRSVILLE (69) - Marhefka 4, 2-2 11; Jeffries 1, 0-0 2; Giffin 2, 0-1 4; Monteroso 10, 7-9 28; Carlton 3, 10-12 17; Campbell 1, 0-0 3; Burghy 0, 2-2 2; Derosa 0, 0-0 0; Keylor 0, 0-0 0; Gossett 1, 0-0 2; Totals: 22, 21-26 69.
Three-Point Goals: S - Herring Hill, Lawson. St. C. - Marhefka, Monteroso, Carlton, Campbell.