St. C. fights off Martins Ferry, 42-40

ST. CLAIRSVILLE – It was rival schools playing hard and leaving it all on the court.

Yep, just another night in Buckeye 8.

The host Lady Red Devils used strong first and third quarters and were able to overcome Martins Ferry’s strong second and fourth quarters for a cherished 42-40 victory before a loud and boisterous crowd inside the Devils’ Den Thursday evening.

The victory is the fifth in eight tries for the Lady Devils, who had lost decisively just 24 hours previously at Bridgeport.

“This win feels really good,” said second-year St. C. head coach Alicia Freeman. “It’s nice to bounce back the way we did. We didn’t shoot the ball well (at Bridgeport), so I knew we had to get some rhythm early offensively to get our confidence back.”

The Lady Red Devils (5-3) wasted little time in getting that back as they used suffocating defense, solid rebounding and hot shooting from sophomore Alexis St. Clair to surge to a 13-2 lead.

For Ferry (5-2) rookie head coach Lindsay Coyne, her team’s slow start was something she’s seen all too frequently this week.

“Our first quarter has to be better,” Coyne lamented. “The last two games we’ve got off to such slow starts that we’ve had to play so hard in the second quarter that it left us without gas for the latter part of the game. I emphasized to the team after the game that we have to be ready to compete from the tipoff because the other team is going to be ready for us.”

Just as she expected, Coyne watched her team score 18 of the second quarter’s first 20 points for a 20-15 lead. They led 22-20 at the intermission thanks to a brilliant chapter by senior standout Jessica Kinney, who pumped in 12 of her game-high 23 during that eight-minute stanza.

St. Clairsville got the game back to two thanks to a buzzer-beating shot by Hayley Skukan.

The Lady Red Devils found themselves in a 29-23 hole after back-to-back buckets from Kinney early in the third. However, St. Clair caught fire once again. She sparked a 13-0 run that eventually got Kinney to the bench with four personals.

“We were so focused on stopping (Kinney) that I think we forgot what to do when she was out of the game,” Freeman said. “I actually think (Kinney) being in foul trouble hurt us a little bit.”

With their main scorer on the bench and Ashlei Ray in street clothes due to an injury, the Lady Riders got buckets from Dionna Lee, Meghan Rose and Morgan Stalder to get within one at 36-35 early in the fourth.

An Ashten Cenkus goal put the Lady Devils back up by three, but Ferry had weathered the Kinney-less storm in good fashion. Coyne was able to re-enter her all-Ohioan with a shade over 5 minutes to play.

Taking advantage of several St. C. turnovers and personal fouls, Kinney got going again. She sank 3-of-4 at the line and got an inside bucket to drop, putting Ferry back on top, 40-38.

Freshman Anna DeFilippo cashed two at the line, tying the game up again with less than a minute to go.

St. Clairsville got a steal and uncontested layup, but Coyne had called for and was granted a timeout, allowing Ferry to retain possession.

“Ferry’s a good, physical basketball team,” Freeman said. “We knew they’d turn it on eventually and they did in the fourth quarter. We didn’t play well in the fourth quarter, but I was glad to see how well we persevered and got this win. We knew this would be a battle, so we wanted to keep our girls focused on winning and not losing.”

The Lady Riders worked the ball into the frontcourt, but Carlee Gillespie picked a Ferry pocket and raced the other way for her only field goal, which proved to be the game winner.

A runner in the lane wouldn’t go for Ferry. St. Clair rebounded. She missed the front end of the bonus, but the ball was touched, rolled free and the clock expired, giving St. C. the victory.

“We always want to try to get the ball to Jess down the stretch because she’s our key player, but give St. Clairsville credit because they really defended her well,” Coyne said. “Someone else needs to step up in those situations and take over. We’re going to keep on working and improving. It’s still early.”

St. Clair led the Lady Devils with 17 points. Lauren Figura was next in line with six.

Kinney’s production was complemented by senior Addie Suriano’s six.

Both teams were charted for 25 turnovers.

No reserve game was contested.

Both teams are off now for the Christmas holiday. St. C. returns to the court Thursday at Barnesville, while Martins Ferry meets Steubenville in the inaugural Martins Ferry holiday tournament.

Varsity scoring:

MARTINS FERRY (40) – K. Stalder 1, 0-0 3; M. Stalder 1, 0-0 2; Suriano 1, 4-4 6; Rose 1, 0-0 2; DeLeonardis 0, 0-0 0; Kinney 8, 6-8 23; Oberdick 1, 0-3 2; Lee 1, 0-0 2; King 0, 0-0 0; Totals: 14, 10-15 40. ST. CLAIRSVILLE (42) – Mick 1, 0-0 3; Skukan 1, 0-0 2; Gillespie 1, 0-0 2; DeFilippo 0, 4-5 4; St. Clair 7, 2-3 17; Cenkus 2, 0-0 4; Miller 0, 0-0 0; Avila 0, 0-0 0; Moulder 2, 0-0 4; Figura 1, 4-8 6; Totals: 15, 10-16 42.

Three-Point Goals: MF – K. Stalder, Kinner. St. C. – St. Clair, Mick.

Staskey can be reached at