Martins Ferry hammers rival Bellaire, 75-51

Martins Ferry rolled into Bellaire Friday night boasting a decided size advantage. It was an edge that proved telling from start to finish.

The Purple Riders road the strong efforts of their bigs to an impressive 75-51 win against their ancient rivals at the House of Champions.

The triumph was the third in eight starts for Coach Jeff Sabatino’s charges, coming off a tough Tuesday home loss to Buckeye Local. The Riders have little time to relish the verdict as they visit Linsly tonight.

Junior forwards Cody Schau and Tyler Strama did most of the damage for the Ferrians, combining for 41 points.

Schau, a 6 ft. 1 leaper, was especially impressive as he nearly recorded a triple-double. He finished with 24 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists.

Strama, a 6 ft. 2 powerhouse, tallied 17 points to go with 11 boards. They received nice paint support from sophomore Robert Vargo. The 6 ft. 6 post came off the bench to register seven points, eight boards and three blocks.

“I thought we played well in all phases tonight. Our kids were really focused,” Sabatino said. “Our inside people dominated and our guards hit shots to make it easier for them. We got positive contributions from a lot of different players.

“I was real pleased with our rebounding and how we handled their pressure,” he continued. “The one area I was displeased with was we gave up a lot of easy shots in the second half. We got a little lazy on defense. Otherwise, it was a good all-around team effort.”

The Purple Riders also were beneficiaries of a coming out party by diaper dandy Jake Barritt. The 5 ft. 7 frosh dynamo came off the bench to knock down 15 points and had four assists.

Ferry took control from the outset and never looked back.

Strama (8) and Schau (6) combined for 14 points in the first quarter, propelling the Purple to a 20-8 upperhand at the initial break. The Big Reds were mired in a 3-for-12 shooting slump during that span.

Things continued to go the Riders’ way in the second period. Sparked by eight Barritt points and six more from Schau, the visitors pumped up their advantage to 37-18 at intermission.

The Big Reds failed to mount a serious challenge the balance of the night.

“Our kids are playing hard and giving us their best,” said Reds’ rookie coach J.R. Battista. “We knew Ferry’s size was going to present problems and it did. Schau and Strama are very talented players.

“We weren’t able to turn them over with our press, plus we didn’t shoot the ball very well,” added the former Big Reds’ hoop star. “We have a good bunch of kids who are working hard every day and who are very coachable. Hopefully it pays dividends as the season plays out.”

The Big Reds will seek victory number two on Tuesday against St. Clairsville on the hilltop.

Battista had two players reach twin digits. Sha’heim Price led the way with 14 points while sweet-shooting senior Derek Feller chipped in with 12 counters. Nick Patrone donated eight tallies for the hosts.

Ferry connected on 31-of-69 floor attempts for 45 percent. The winners committed 10 turnovers.

Bellaire meshed 19-of-48 shots for 39 percent. The Reds were guilty of 16 miscues.

Ferry made it a sweep by claiming the reserve affair.

Kapral may be reached at