CONNORVILLE - St. Clairsville head coach Kim Clifford has been coaching for quite a few years and Buckeye Local mentor Greg Haberfield is just three games into his first season as a head coach.
No question, the two coaches have one thing in common. They both have teams that just don't quit.
While Haberfield's Panthers kept battling back from large deficits, Clifford's Red Devils didn't buckle under when they did. Twice Buckeye Local came back from 19-point margins, but St. Clairsville came up with some timely defense and some even more timely foul shooting en route to a 69-60 win over the Panthers in Connorville Tuesday night.
The Red Devils bounced back from a Saturday night loss to Brooke to improve their record to 3-1 on the season. St. C is back in action on Friday playing host to Harrison Central.
Haberfield's Panthers started a busy week last night. They will take an 0-3 mark to Oak Glen tonight and then travel to Edison on Friday.
"(Buckeye) did a nice job of coming down and making their shots," Clifford said after the win. "Of course, that's what you are suppose to do. But in the end, our guys did what they had to do. They made their free throws and they came up defensively to put themselves in good positions."
"We played a lot of guys tonight and that gave us an opportunity to see what a lot of different guys can do in different stages of the game," the St. C boss pointed out.
"We don't have a lot of experience, so we try to get a lot of these guys the experience in December to help figure out who can do what in game situations. That's something you can't do in practice," Clifford added.
It appeared to be a dogfight in the opening minutes as the team's traded scores on their way to a 6-all draw. Buckeye had the handle on a brief 6-4 lead with the aid of a pair of scores by sophomore Ryan Moffo and one from Damion Beall. It was a lay-in by smooth-playing freshman Michael Scarnecchia that erased the last Panther lead and opened a 13-0 run by the Red Devils. Scarnecchia scored eight of the 13 for the St. C., Buckeye closed the frame with a pair at the line as the visitors held onto a 17-8 lead at the first break.
Jonathan Borkoski opened the second session with a trey and Dylan Dokes canned two at the line to close the margin to 17-13. The Red Devils' Patrick Buchanan and Buckeye's Brennen Czuchran traded scores before the Devils exploded for 15 straight points. Sparked by the dead-eye shooting of Daniel Trouten, Jared Derosa and J. C. Coleman, St. Clairsville extended its lead to 34-15 and closed the half with a 34-17 lead.
It was an evenly played third period as each team tallied 19 and the Red Devils continued to lead by 17 at the final break holding onto a 53-36 lead.
"I was extremely pleased with our effort tonight and the fact that they never gave up," Haberfield said following the setback. "We knew they could shoot well. We had three things that we wanted to accomplish tonight and we took care of all but one in our game plan."
"I'm real pleased with the way we played and hope that we can continue that," the Panther coach added.
In the final frame, the Red Devils held leads of 17, 19 ad 15 before Buckeye started its late comeback attempt. Down 60-45, Czuchran converted a three-pointer and Beall scored off a steal to narrow the gap to 60-50. Scarnecchia netted one of two from the line before Czuchran converted a three-point play.
Buchanan again added some cushion to the Devils lead hitting to at the stripe. Czuchran cashed a layup before the Trouten and Joel Griffin pushed the lead to 66-55 at the line. Czuchran drilled a trey with 36 seconds on the clock and Scarnecchia netted one of two at the line. With just under 10 ticks remaining Dokes pulled the hosts to 67-60 with two at the line, but Trouten calmly swished two free throws in the final seconds to seal the win.
Trouten led all scorers with 19 points while Scarnecchia closed with 13 and Derosa added 10. Brendan Ferns led the winners with seven rebounds.
Czuchran had a team-high 18 for Buckeye while Borkoski finished with 15 and Moffo added 10. Czuchran led all rebounders with eight.
In the jayvee contest, the Red Devils notched a 63-21 win. Varsity scoring:
ST. CLAIRSVILLE (69) -Trouten 4, 7-8 19; Derosa 4, 0-0 10; Coleman 4, 0-0 9; Giffin 2, 2-2 6; Ferns 3, 0-3 6; Panepucci 0, 0-0 0; Buchanan 0, 6-6 6; Monteroso 0, 0-2 0; Scarnecchia 3, 6-10 13. Totals, 20-49, 21-31. BUCKEYE LOCAL (60) - Pyciak 0, 0-0 0; Donahue 2, 0-0 5; Czuchran 6, 4-5 18; Miller 0, 0-0 0; Borkoski 4, 3-6 15; Moffo 4, 2-2 10; Beall 2, 0-0 4; Dokes 2 4-4 8. Totals, 20-41, 13-17.
Three-point goals: St. Clairsville (8) - Trouten, 4; Derosa 2; Coleman, 1. Buckeye Local (7) - Borkoski, 4; Czuchran, 2; Donahue, 1.