When Martins Ferry's Purple Riders need a score, need a rebound or just need a boost, they look no further than senior standout Cody Schau.
Schau scored 27 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and seemed unstoppable in leading Martins Ferry to a key 54-44 OVAC and Buckeye 8 win over Buckeye Local at the Riders' Tolbert Gymnasium Tuesday night.
With the win, coach Jeff Sabatino's Purple Riders improved to 7-5 on the season and strengthened their hold on the fourth-seed in the OVAC Class 4-A race to the playoffs. The Riders topped Buckeye in Connorville earlier in the season. Martins Ferry hosts Harrison Central on Friday.
Coach Jay Morris' Panthers fell below .500 at 7-8 with the loss. They are in action on Friday hosting a very good St. Clairsville team.
"From start to finish we played hard, but whenever Buckeye seemed to make a run, Cody Schau came through with a score," Sabatino said after the game. "We played without Tyler Strama again tonight. We played Buckeye twice without him, but the kids stepped up.
"They tried to defend Cody with combination defenses, but he still was able to find a way to score or he would make a good pass to someone else that was open," the Rider coach added. "I just thought that as a team, we did a lot of really good things tonight.
"We played defensively very well. I think it's pretty hard to get mad when you hold a team to 44 points."
On the other side of the court, Morris continues to search for answers to his team's shooting woes.
"We have been having trouble scoring all season," Morris said. "We had a lot of good looks and a lot of open shots, but we just didn't make them.
"Cody Schau is a very good player," the Buckeye coach pointed out. "He's a very good athlete. He plays smart and under control. Whenever we would go on a little run, he would get a score or do something to get them right back in it."
Paced by Schau and freshman Emilio Appolloni in the opening session and Buckeye's 2-or-15 shooting from the floor, the Riders raced to a 12-2 lead before the Panthers closed with a three-point play by Dylan Williams and a bucket by Kyle Michalo. Ferry led by 12-7 at the first break.
In the second frame, Michalo drained a three, Schau countered with a layup and Williams drained a trey as Buckeye closed the gap to 14-13. The Riders bounced back with a bucket by Jake Barritt and back-to-back scores by Schau. After Michalo hit another three-pointer, Arjay Burress and Schau scored to extend the lead to 24-16. Buckeye tried to rally but a late run by the hosts put Ferry ahead by 30-20 at the intermission.
Schau led all scorers with 27 points including 24 from the floor while grabbing a game-high 12 rebounds. Appollini added seven points while Vargo and Barritt had six each.
Michalo paced the Panther scoring with 14 points while Williams closed out with 11 markers and Shane Duncan added eight. John Rozenek led the visitors on the board with six rebounds.
In the jayvee contest, Buckeye registered a 46-36 win as Mike Carducci tossed in 12 points and Jonathan Borkoski added 11. Dustin Schau led the Riders with 10. Varsity scoring:
MARTINS FERRY (54) - Barritt 2, 2-3 6; Sears 1, 0-0 ; Burress 2, 1-3 5; Vargo 1, 4-4 6; C. Schau 12, 3-5 27; Appolloni 3, 1-3 7. Total, 21-49, 11-17. BUCKEYE LOCAL (44) - Czuchran 1, 3-3 5; Agnew 2, 0-0 4; Williams 4, 1-1 11; Duncan 4, 0-0 8; Rozenek 1, 0-0 2; Michalo 6, 0-0 14; Hamilton 0, 0-00. Totals, 18-55, 4-4.
Three-point goals: Martins Ferry (1) - Sears, 1. Buckeye Local (4) - Williams, 2; Michalo, 2.