BELLAIRE - It's not just a cliche to hear coaches talk about size and length.
Case in point was Wednesday evening inside the 'House of Champions' where St. Clairsville utilized both of those key components on both ends of the floor and proved to be too much for the Big Reds to overcome.
The Red Devils (6-3) took control in the first half and were offered little resistance in the second half en route to a 73-46 victory.
ST. CLAIRSVILLE’S Jared Derosa goes up for a shot during the first quarter as Bellaire’s Nathan Steele defends. The Red Devils defeated the Big Reds, 73-46. Additional images may be found at cu.timesleaderonline.com
"We had a couple of really good practices and I am just glad we carried that over to the game," said St. C. head coach Kim Clifford, who posted his 401st career victory. "I am just really pleased (with how we played) at both ends."
The setback snapped a five-game Big Reds' winning streak. During that stretch, the Big Reds (6-4) had been scoring the ball at a high rate. Those looks and opportunities just were not there against the Red Devils thanks to the likes of sophomore Brendan Ferns, senior Joel Giffin and freshman Michael Scarnecchia, all of whom are 6-ft-3 or better and long.
"They turned shots we'd been making into much tougher shots," said Bellaire head coach J.R. Battista. "Every shot was challenged, they blocked out and limited us to one shot. Plus, the shots we were getting weren't the best shots we could get. On the other end, that size and length afforded them much easier shots."
The few open, unchallenged shots the Big Reds had wouldn't go down for the Big Reds as both leading scorers Michael Neal and Nathan Steele struggled to find the touch.
"Our defense is finally coming together, especially in the team concept of shutting down lanes and getting out on shooters," Clifford said. "I thought they shot a lot of shots under duress. We had a really good rebounding effort tonight."
The Red Devils built a 17-point lead in the second quarter, but the Big Reds scored the final eight points of the half.
Any momentum the Big Reds may have built evaporated quickly in the third when St. C. scored 11 of the first 12 points of the second half.
"They really bothered us defensively," Battista said. "Along with the size and length, they've got pretty good foot speed, too. They're bigger (than us) across the board. I think Ferns pinned two shots and you don't see that all the time."
St. Clairsville continued to pull away with a 24-point outburst in the third. Both teams emptied their benches in the second half of the fourth period.
The Red Devils were once again balanced. Sophomore Patrick Buchanan and Ferns went for 15 and 14, respectively. Scarnecchia notched 12 points.
"The last couple of weeks, I've been more pleased because we're starting to understand when to go inside with the ball or to kick it out for the 3," Clifford said. "The more you play, the more you recognize situations and our guys are becoming more comfortable with just playing."
Bellaire, meanwhile, was paced by Steele's 13 and Neal's 12. Tyler Ramsay added eight points.
The Devils owned a commanding 32-18 edge on the glass. Scarnecchia pulled down 12 rebounds to lead the way for St. C. Bellaire was led on the glass by Sterling Wright, who came off the bench to yank down seven boards.
"We're usually pretty good on the boards, but we got murdered on the glass tonight," Battista said.
Both teams are in action on the road Friday. The Red Devils trek to Morristown to take on unbeaten and state-ranked Union Local. Bellaire travels up Ohio 7 to meet Buckeye Local.
St. Clairsville rallied for a victory in the reserve game to complete the sweep.
ST. CLAIRSVILLE (73) - Trouten 3, 1-2 7; Derosa 2, 1-1 5; Coleman 2, 0-0 5; Giffin 2, 2-3 7; Ferns 7, 0-1 14; Panepucci 1, 0-0 2; Bosworth 1, 0-0 3; Buchanan 6, 0-0 15; Monteroso 0, 0-0 0; McCort 1, 0-0 3; Scarnecchia 5, 2-3 12; Hotham 0, 0-0 0; Slavik 0, 0-0 0; Sears 0, 0-0 0; Totals: 30, 6-10 73. BELLAIRE (46) - Steele 5, 1-4 13; Neal 3, 5-10 12; Ramsay 1, 6-8 8; Callarik 0, 0-0 0; Hess 1, 0-1 2; Back 0, 0-0 0; Wright 1, 2-4 4; Kimbro 0, 0-0 0; Westlake 3, 0-0 6; Pickens 0, 1-2 1; Ky. Hess 0, 0-2 0; Kovalyk 0, 0-0 0; Hall 0, 0-0 0; Totals: 14, 15-31 46.
Three-Point Goals: St. C. 7 (Coleman, Giffin, Bosworth, Buchanan 3, McCort. Bellaire 3 (Steele 2, Neal).
Staskey can be reached at email@example.com