ST. CLAIRSVILLE - After watching eight players from last season's Division II 'Sweet 16' squad graduate, St. Clairsville head boys' basketball coach Kim Clifford was eager to see what this season's new cast of characters had to offer.
He's quickly finding out the results are to his liking.
The Red Devils outscored Harrison Central 11-3 in the third quarter and that helped St C. pull away for a 46-36 triumph on John Jenkins Court.
HARRISON CENTRAL’S Austin Kowalski and St. Clairsville’s Daniel Trouten battle for possession of a loose ball during Friday’s game in St. Clairsville. The Red Devils prevailed, 46-36.
''I told our kids it was a great game for us in December to see what kind of will we had,'' said Clifford, who watched his team win for the fourth time in five tries. ''We're just trying to find ourselves.''
Any season in any sport is a marathon, not a sprint. To that end, Clifford, who recorded his 399th career victory, is enjoying watching things evolve.
One of the things Clifford was pleased about Friday night was the play of sophomore Patrick Buchanan, who led the Red Devils with 12 points off the bench.
''He was very big,'' Clifford said. ''He's right on the edge of being a starter and he gave us a great boost. He went in there and gave us some nice shots and he had a couple of blocked shots, too.
''He's just another piece of the puzzle.''
Buchanan tossed in a 3-pointer in the first quarter, but he came alive in third, scoring five points as the Red Devils went from trailing 18-17 at halftime to leading 28-21 after three periods.
Joel Giffin tied the game at 18-18 with a free throw to start the quarter. Moments later, Michael Scarnecchia dropped in a layup to extend the advantage to 20-18.
But the Huskies (3-3) immediately regained the lead, 21-20, on a 3-pointer by Cory Yoho.
From there, though, the Red Devils went on an 8-0 run to end the period, keyed by a 3-point play and layup by Buchanan.
''At halftime, we just talked about parts of their offense that we needed to handle,'' Clifford said.
They did just that.
''I don't know if it so much that third quarter, but all night,'' Harrison Central head coach Justin Clifford, who has yet to coach a team to victory against his dad, said. ''They were able to make shots and we weren't able to make any shots.
''I think we were something like 12 of 51 from the floor or something and I told (the team) that you're not going to win too many games like that.
''But, defensively, we played hard. I'll never fault my guys for their effort.''
Defenses ruled the first half, one that saw three ties and four lead changes.
Neither squad led by by more than four points until the Red Devils made their surge in the third.
And, even then, the Huskies, tried to make a run.
Kalub Mitchell made a layup with 6:54 left in the game that cut Harrison Central's deficit to three at 28-25. But Jared Derosa responded with a 3 to make the score 31-25 and the Huskies really never threatened again.
The Red Devils hit three 3-pointers in the fourth quarter.
''We were bigger so we tried to throw it down inside and they did a real good job of taking it away,'' Kim Clifford said. ''So, we kicked it back out and, fortunately, those guys knocked (those shots) down.
''I thought we were disciplined down the stretch and took good shots. Harrison played hard and every pass and every shot was a challenge. I'm just pleased and relieved that we were able to make enough plays down the stretch to get ahead.''
Austin Kowalski paced the Huskies with 13 points.
St. Clairsville also win the junior varsity contest, 55-35.
St. Clairsville 46, Harrison Central 36
H - K.Mitchell 3 0-0 6; Kowalski 3 5-6 13; Johnson 0 0-0 0; B.Mitchell 0 0-0 0; Rutter 0 0-0 0; Redish 0 1-2 1; Evans 2 0-0 6; Yoho 3 1-2 8; Olmstead 1 0-0 2; Miser 0 0-0 0. Totals 12 7-10 36.
S - Trouten 2 2-2 7; Derosa 2 2-3 8; Coleman 0 1-2 1; Giffin 1 3-6 5; Ferns 2 0-1 4; Buchanan 4 2-4 12; Monteroso 0 0-0 0; Scarnecchia 4 0-0 9. Totals 15 10-18 46.
3-Point Goals: Kowalski 2, Evans, Yoho; Derosa, Buchanan, Trouten, Scarnecchia.
Harrison Central8 10 3 15 - 36
St. Clairsville9 8 11 18 - 46