SHADYSIDE - It appears Martins Ferry's boys' basketball team has found it's groove.
Robert Vargo poured in 25 points and the Purple Riders missed one shot from the field in the fourth quarter Saturday night in handing Shadyside a 65-49 setback in the Tiger Den.
"We won big Tuesday and won last night, so that's four of five," noted Martins Ferry head coach Jeff Sabatino. "But we don't base success on wins and losses. We're playing very well right now.
T-L Photo/RICK THORP
Martins Ferry's Robert Vargo, middle, is defended by Shadyside's Zach Frizzi, left, and Travis Fulton on Saturday night.
"I think we've found ourselves and we're starting to figure out who we are."
The Purple Riders (7-7) never trailed and were 9 of 10 from the field in the final period.
"To come on the road and win comfortably is one thing," Sabatino said, "but I thought we played very, very well in the process and that's important to us."
Vargo had a big game against the Tigers (7-8) the last time the two teams faced off, and Shadyside head coach Ed Andes wanted to focus on the big man defensively this time.
"He had 26 against us the last time and that's what we were trying to key on, but it just didn't work out very well," Andes said. "He kept moving all night and it worked out very well for him."
Vargo scored the first two baskets of the game and when Jake Barritt it the first of three 3-pointers the Purple Riders had a 7-2 lead.
Zach Frizzi converted a 3-point play and, moments later, drained a trey to bring the Tigers within one at 11-10.
A 5-0 Ferry spurt keyed by a 3-point play by Vargo gave the Purple Riders a 16-10 lead. Shadyside answered, however , with a layup from Frizzi and jumper by Shane Johnson that made the score 16-14.
At this point, Ferry started to pull away.
Barritt and James Edwards nailed back-to-back 3s to give the Purple Riders a 22-14 lead.
The visitors led by eight after one and by 10, 35-25, at halftime.
"We're getting better in all areas and that's the key," Sabatino said. "We try to use practices to get better. Four weeks ago we had a lot of getting better to do. Now, we're taking care of the ball much better. Our shot selection was always good, but it's turning into excellent."
Martins Ferry used a 6-1 run to start the second half to build a 41-26 lead. Vargo had two buckets, the second coming off an offensive board.
"We had some guys whose shots were off and against a team that's big that's not good because we didn't rebound well," Andes said. "We got one (per possession) and that was about it. If we got two we were lucky."
The Purple Riders built their largest lead at - 47-30 - on a layup by Kylil Bass.
From there, the Tigers hung around, but couldn't get any closer than nine points the rest of the way.
"We just couldn't get over the hump," Andes said. "Vargo did a great job and scored, but they had other guys step up. Edwards had 11 and Mr. Barritt (who finished with 14) made three 3s.
"They just played a nice game."
John Michael Schuetz paced the Tigers with 17 points, while Frizzi had 14.
"We need to develop some guys coming off the bench to play better," Sabatino said. "If that happens, I think we'll be a tough out come tournament time."
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