MARTINS FERRY - Martins Ferry wasn't going to let it happen again.
A little more than a month after surrendering an 18-point, third-quarter lead in Cadiz, the Purple Riders quickly made it known there wouldn't be a repeat Friday night inside Tolbert Gymnasium.
Jake Barritt poured in 18 points, Emilio Appolloni swatted 10 shots, and Harrison Central was limited to 21 percent field goal shooting (11 of 52) in Martins Ferry's 66-33 whitewashing of the Huskies in the Buckeye 8 rematch.
MARTINS FERRY’S Robert Vargo goes up for a shot against Harrison Central’s Kalub Mitchell during the second half of Friday’s game inside the Tolbert Gymnasium. Vargo scored 14 points in the game as the Purple Riders rolled past the Huskies, 66-33. Additional images may be found at cu.timesleaderonline.com
The Purple Riders, winners of five out of six, improved to 8-6 and continue to make a run at an OVAC Tournament spot in Class 4A. The Huskies, meanwhile, dropped to 7-7.
''That game was eons ago,'' Martins Ferry head coach Jeff Sabatino said referencing the last meeting between the two teams on December 18. ''We were 1-3 and most of that was coaching. I couldn't find an avenue for us.
''The fifth game, we started to find ourselves. We found some things, stuck to those things and improved on those things every game. And, frankly, except for the second half against Steubenville (a 75-52 loss), we've played 10 pretty games in a row.''
For Huskies head man Justin Clifford, the result was unexpected.
''I'm shocked to say the least, to be honest,'' he said.
''I was excited to see how it was going to go. We had three pretty good days of practice. We were excited about, not only the game plan, but the effort and energy we had in practice. We didn't execute.
''When you're 11 of 52 from the floor you're not going to win too many games. And we were 3 of 27 from 3, I think.''
Clifford believed the poor shooting spurred the Purple Riders at the offensive end.
''We let our shooting performance dictate how we played defense,'' he said.
A Kalub Mitchell layup drew the Huskies to within 8-6 in the early going. From there, Martins Ferry went on a 10-0 run, spurred by four points from James Edwards. Robert Vargo, who finished with 14 points, capped the spurt with a layup off a nifty feed from Appolloni.
The Purple Riders went into halftime leading 30-12.
''We were excellent defensively,'' Sabatino said. ''They gave us some great heat and, for the most part, we answered that heat. We attacked and got some layups.''
Friday's game was the first for both teams since last Saturday.
''I was a little concerned about that,'' Sabatino noted. ''You just never know. When you're playing well, you really want to play every day.''
The Purple Riders showed little rust and continue to pour it on the Huskies in the second half, starting the third quarter with a 6-0 run stretching the lead to 36-12.
Mitchell had four points midway through the third as the Huskies pulled to within 16 at 38-22. Ferry went on a 17-4 surge, however, to take a commanding 55-26 advantage midway through the fourth quarter.
''I can't think of a phase that we played poorly in, except for free throws (12-for-26),'' Sabatino said. ''And, fortunately, we didn't need those.''
Edwards finished with 11 points.
Austin Kowalski paced Harrison Central with nine points.
''People that come watch us play talk about how hard we play, the energy and stuff like that,'' Clifford said. ''Nobody was seeing that.
''I don't know where that came from.''
Martins Ferry also won the junior varsity game, 59-46.
HARRISON CENTRAL (33) - Rutter 0 0-0 0; Olmstead 0 0-0 0; Evans 2 2-2 7; Kowalski 3 3-4 9; Yoho 1 1-4 3; Redish 2 0-0 4; K.Mitchell 2 2-2 6; B.Mitchell 1 1-2 4; Johnson 0 0-0 0; Walrath 0 0-0 0. Totals 11 9-14 33. MARTINS FERRY (66) - Barritt 7 3-8 18; Edwards 4 2-2 11; Agnew 3 1-2 7; Bass 0 0-2 0; Burress 3 3-4 9; Barbour 0 1-2 1; Vargo 6 2-6 14; Shane 0 0-0 0; Appolloni 1 0-0 2; Rine 2 0-0 4. Totals 26 12-26 66.
3-Point Goals: Evans, B.Mitchell; Barritt, Edwards.