Shadyside has been one of the area's toughest teams to get a handle on this season.
For Ed Andes and company, it's been a season resembling a roller coaster ride.
Friday night, high atop Martins Ferry, inside the Tolbert Gymnasium, the Tigers hit one of their peaks at a time when the Purple Riders needed the Tigers to be in one of their valleys.
SHADYSIDE’S Austin Dorris goes up for a shot against Martin Ferry’s Robert Vargo during the second half of Friday’s game in the Tolbert Gymnasium. Additional images may be found at cu.timesleaderonline.com
"I've seen Shadyside a lot this season and I don't think I've seen them play as well as they did in that first half," said Purple Riders' head coach Jeff Sabatino. "We needed them to play average, but unfortunately for us that wasn't the case early."
It was that first half, which basically proved to be the difference as the Tigers owned an 11-point cushion at the intermission and went on to post a 59-47 repeat victory against the Purple Riders.
"We shot the ball better, we were patient offensively and we defended better than we did on Tuesday," Andes said. "Though we've had some ups and downs, I'll take it. Before, we'd play well and still not win, but now when we play well we find a way to win."
The Purple Riders (9-6), who played without the area's leading scorer in Cody Schau, fell behind by as many as 15 at a juncture in the third quarter.
"We made a go out of it," Sabatino said. "We had it down to six, but the ball slipped off our fingers, we missed a couple of layups and some free throws, but you certainly can't fault the effort."
Riding the strength of their post players - senior Tyler Strama and junior Robert Vargo - the Purple Riders clawed their way back into the game and trimmed the margin to just six at 52-46 with a three minutes to play.
However, Shadyside (10-10) went to its post player, sophomore Austin Dorris, who delivered in the clutch. The 6-5 tenth grader scored 10 of his 22 points in the final quarter, including five in a row, which helped keep the Purple Riders at bay.
"We knew they'd make a run to get back in the game," Andes said. "Strama and Vargo are tough for us to handle since they're so much bigger than we are. We knew they were just going to keep throwing it into those guys because they really didn't have anyone hitting from the outside."
Dorris was complemented in the scoring column by talented senior Adam Stupak, who had the hot hand early. He scored 10 of his 19 in the first half, burying three trifectas during the first 16 minutes of action. Shane Johnson gave a nice early spark off the Shadyside bench.
Strama led the Riders with 22 markers, while Vargo scored 10 points and collected nine rebounds.
"I thought, for a guy playing basically on one leg, Strama played a heck of a game," Sabatino said. "I didn't know what to expect from that boy, but my goodness did he deliver. Give Shadyside credit because they weren't going to let us win tonight."
Shadyside held a slim 27-25 edge on the boards and was charted for just eight turnovers, but that was still two more than the hosts.
Senior Ryan Richardson led the Orange on the glass with seven boards to go along with his five points.
Both teams begin play in the Wheeling Hospital OVAC Boys Basketball Championship on Tuesday.
Martins Ferry earned the fourth seed in Class 4A and will visit defending champion St. Clairsville.
"We're behind the 8-ball, playing against one of the best teams to come out of the Ohio Valley since I've been coaching," Sabatino said of St. Clairsville. "I know this, though: we'll go to work Sunday and Monday, go out there and play as hard as we can with the best five guys we've got available to us."
Shadyside was edged out of the championship bracket. It'll play host to Morgantown Trinity on Tuesday and trek to Union Local on Friday.
Shadyside prevailed by a 42-28 count in the jayvee game.
SHADYSIDE (59) - Nardo 0, 0-0 0; Stupak 5, 6-7 19; Johnson 3, 0-0 6; Brooks 1, 0-0 2; Richardson 2, 0-0 5; Dorris 9, 4-9 22; Gibson 2, 0-1 5; Totals: 22, 10-17 59. MARTINS FERRY (47) - Barritt 2, 2-3 6; Sears 0, 0-0 0; Edwards 0, 0-0 0; Burress 3, 1-2 7; D. Schau 0, 0-0 0; Vargo 5, 0-0 10; Appolloni 1, 0-0 2; Strama 9, 4-7 22; Agnew 0, 0-0 0; Totals: 20, 7-12 47.
Three-Point Goals: S - Stupak (3), Richardson, Gibson. MF - None.
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