MARTINS FERRY - You know you are having a bad day when your team has more shots blocked than it makes in four quarters of play. Then again when teams go up against Martins Ferry's two towers in the paint, anything can happen.
With both teams coming off season-opening losses, the Purple Riders made just the right changes to allow 6 -6 senior Robert Vargo and 6-8 sophomore Emilio Appollini to take away any inside game for Buckeye Local as they rolled to 79-40 win over the Panthers at the Tolbert Gymnasium Friday night.
Coach Jeff Sabatino's Riders bounced back nicely to improve their record to 1-1 on the season. They are scheduled to play at Edison tonight weather permitting.
MARTINS FERRY’S Robert Vargo goes up strong for a shot during Friday’s game against Buckeye Local. The Riders cruised to victory. Additional images may be found at cu.timesleaderonlnne.com
Buckeye Local, looking to rebuild under rookie head coach Greg Haberfield, dropped its opener at home on Thursday to Indian Creek. They are back in action on Tuesday hosting St. Clairsville.
"By design, we played differently tonight," Sabatino said after the win. "We wanted to force them to drive to the bucket and when they did we blocked a lot of their shots. That turned into a lot of run-out points at the other end."
"We have those two big guys inside that we were able to force them to try to shot over those guys," he added. "I also thought we shot the ball very well tonight, everybody did. We shot very poorly in the game the other night, but tonight we shot so much better."
"We played about as well as we could have played tonight," the Rider coach added. "(Lucas) Agnew and (Arjay) Burress switched off and did a very good job guarding a very good player (Brennen Czuchran). He is one of the better players out there. When he shots a jump shot, it's a jump shot. He can take those shots from anywhere because he can jump over you."
Haberfield was impressed with the Purple Riders and was quick to point out their effectiveness against his team.
"They just took us out of our game plan early and just took away our offense," the Panther coach said. "It was very difficult for us to handle Vargo. He plays very well defensively and he is really hard to handle down low."
Martins Ferry's front court tag team of Vargo and Appollino completly dominated both ends of the court. Appollino scored just four points, but latched onto seven rebounds and blocked nine Buckeye Local shots. Vargo scored a game-high 21 points and also grabbed 11 rebounds and blocked seven shots.
Despite the outcome, the first period had all the makings for a very tight game. The Riders Jake Barritt started the scoring with a jumper and Buckeye's Czuchran retaliated with a three-point play. Vargo converted one of two at the line before the Panthers Damion Beall cashed a layup for a 5-3 Buckeye lead. James Edwards added one at the line and Vargo followed a rebound for two and a 6-5 Rider lead. Ryan Moffo put the Panthers back on top with a lay-in Appollini and Vargo teamed to return the hosts to the forefront with a 10-7 lead. Cory Donahue and Czuchran cashed back-to-back threes for the Panthers last lead at 13-10 before Edwards' trey and Burress' deuce closed the period with a15-13 Ferry lead.
Martins Ferry dominated from the second frame on as the hosts used the scoring of Edwards, Vargo and Kylil Bass to put together a 12-0 run and a 27-13 lead. Later in the session, the Riders erupted for 13 straight and were on their way to 40-18 halftime lead.
A 16-2 run to open the second half was all the Riders needed to put the game out of reach for the cold-shooting Panthers. Martins Ferry led by 60-25 after three periods.
Aside from Vargo's 21-point effort, the Riders received a 12-point performance from Edwards and eight each from Barritt, Arjay Burress and Josiah Burress.
Czuchran led the Panther scorers with 12 points while Beall added six and Moffo closed with five. Czuchran and Jonathan Borkoski had seven each of Buckeye's 32 rebounds.
In the jayvee contest, the Riders notched 62-38 win.
MARTINS FERRY (79) - Barritt 4, 0-0 8; Garrett 0, 0-0 0; A. Burress 4, 0-2 8; Baire 0, 0-0 0; Edwards 4, 1-2 12; Agnew 0, 0-1 0; Bass 2, 2-3 7; J. Burress 3, 2-2 8; Selby 2, 0-0 4; Barbone 0, 0-0 0; Vargo 8, 5-8 21; Shane 1, 0-0 2; Schuster 0, 1-3 1; Appollini 2, 0-1 4; Rine 1, 1-2 4. Totals, 31-65, 12-22. BUCKEYE LOCAL (40) - Pyciak 1, 0-0 2; Donahue 1, 0-0 3; Czuchran 4, 3-3 12; Dehnart, 2, 0-1 4; Miller 1, 0-2 2; Borkoski 0, 1-3 ; Moffo 1, 3-4 5; Bobo 0, 0-0 0; Faulkner 0, 0-0 0; Moore 1, 0-0 3; Beall 2, 2-4 6; Dokes 1, 0-0 2. Totals, 14-63, 9-17.
Three-point goals: Martins Ferry (5) - Edwards, 3; Bass, 1; Rine, 1. Buckeye Local (3) - Donahue, 1; Czuchran, 1; Moore, 1.