MARTINS FERRY - With time running down in Martins Ferry's season-opening game with Edison Monday night and the Purple Riders trailing 38-37, the ball was in the hands of freshman Malyah Coleman.
"I wouldn't have wanted the ball in the hands of anyone else," second-year Martins Ferry head coach Lindsay Coyne said moments after Coleman drained a 10-foot runner with 7.1 ticks left for the winning points in a thrilling, 39-38, girls' basketball victory inside the Tolbert Gymnasium.
"I am so proud of these girls," Coyne said. "We talk a lot about hard work and dedicating yourself, and showing is what you have inside. We, as coaches, believe in these girls. We see them work so hard in practice that we believe in them.
"I told them before the game that there are going to be a lot of non-believers (in you)," she added. "Come out tonight and prove them wrong. Show them what we represent, and that's hard work and having heart."
Following Coleman's clutch basket, the Wildcats' inbounds pass to midcourt resulted in a jump-ball situation in which the hosts had the possession arrow. The ball was inbounded to Coleman, who was fouled with 3.6 on the clock. She missed the free throw and Edison immediately called timeout.
However, the pass to midcourt was knocked away by Maggie Skvarka as the clock ran out.
"Maggie didn't score a single point tonight, but she came up with that big play," Coyne noted. "Everyone I threw in tonight did something well for us. I'm so proud of all of them."
Martins Ferry led 12-7 after eight minutes as freshman Sydney Bridges powered her way to six points in the paint. Edison cut into the deficit as junior Paige Reynolds came off the bench to tally six points as the Purple Riders' lead was cut to 22-19 at the half.
Sophomore Tyrah King netted five of her seven points in the third quarter as the hosts increased their lead, slightly, to 31-26 after three quarters.
Edison took its first lead since 7-6 when senior Abby Fonow scored off an offensive rebound with 2:55 remaining for a 34-33 edge. After both teams missed the front end of bonus situations, Coleman knocked down another clutch shot for a 35-34 lead.
Kayli Stewart gave the Wildcats a 36-35 advantage with 1:45 showing, but Bridges' power move in the lane put the hosts back on top, 37-36, with 1:28 left.
Fonow was fouled while making a shot with 50.1 seconds remaining for a 38-37 lead, but her ensuing free throw was off the mark as the Purple Riders rebounded.
Coyne called timeout with 45.6 remaining to setup the last-second strategy. Senior Morgan Stalder inbounded to Coleman who drove to the right baseline and let loose with the game-winner with a defender in her face. The shot tickled the twine.
"I wasn't scared one bit," Coyne admitted. "I actually told her to go get it. She is just fearless. She took a shot with a hand in her face and just nailed it. The biggest thing, though, is she wanted the ball in her hands, as well. A lot of girls shy away from that moment, but not her."
Coleman finished with 10 points, while Bridges led the way with 14. King had seven before fouling out. King also led the way with a dozen rebounds. Stalder charted 11. Coleman also dished out five assists and recorded three steals.
Stewart had 14 points and Fonow 12 to lead Edison.
There was no JV contest.
EDISON (38) - Scott 0 0-3 0; Miller 0 0-2 0; Fonow 6 0-1 12; Stewart 4 5-7 14; Morrison 1 2-2 4; Proffitt 0 0-0 0; Reynolds 2 2-3 6; Drabick 1 0-0 2; Marton 0 0-2 0; Totals: 14-55 9-18. MARTINS FERRY (39) - Stalder 2 0-0 4; Coleman 5 0-1 10; Bridges 7 0-3 14; King 3 1-1 7; Ray 2 0-0 4; Johnson 0 0-0 0; Martin 0 0-0 0; Skvarka 0 0-1 0; Sutton 0 0-0 0; Totals: 19-56 1-6.
Three-point Goals: Edison 1 (Stewart)
North can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org