Martins Ferry cruises past Union Local, 71-44

The Purple is peaking.

Martins Ferry continued its exceptional play as the Purple Riders rolled to a 71-44 triumph over visiting Union Local Friday night.

It was the third successive impressive win for Coach Jeff Sabatino’s well-drilled charges. The Riders are now 9-5 and scheduled to visit Steubenville today in a game which may fall victim to Old Man Winter. Ferry visits Indian Creek Tuesday.

Coach Vaughn Butler’s youthful Jets fell to 6-11. Union Local has two more tough assignments looming, facing Indian Creek Monday and St. Clairsville just 24 hours later.

“We played well tonight and have been playing real well as of late. We are 6-1 when (Tyler) Strama has played,” Sabatino said. “Union Local came out in a junk defense to take Cody (Schau) away and we executed extremely well against it. People who were supposed to make shots did make shots.

“Once they went man, we had our way we things,” he added. “We again did a great job on the boards, and we should with our size.”

When the Jets and Riders met in mid-January, Union Local gave the Riders fits for much of the night. In that game at Morristown, Butler’s boys built an 11-point third-quarter lead before Martins Ferry closed with a rush to escape with the victory.

There was no such doubt about the outcome Friday night.

Martins Ferry attacked the Jets’ junk defense, designed to stymie Schau. Thanks to two Robert Vargo layups, courtesy of lob passes from 6-8 frosh Emilio Appolloni, and buckets from Schau, Appolloni and Strama, the Ferrians found themselves on top 10-0 at the 5:08 mark of the opening panel.

The Purple Riders never looked back.

Ferry, using nine Schau lightings and five more from sophomore point guard dandy Jake Barritt, mounted a 24-10 advantage after the opening quarter. The hosts stretched their margin to 42-23 at halftime before ballooning it to 59-34 after three rounds.

Schau was his usual exceptional self, leading all scorers with 28 points. Vargo was superb support with 18 counters while Strama produced 10 tallies.

Senior sharpshooter Jacob Bailey was the lone Jet to reach twin figures with 12 counters. Promising sophomore guard Gavin Porter was next with eight points while freshman dandy Trenton Tipton netted seven tallies.

“We dug ourselves an early hole, one we couldn’t dig out of. We had a tough time of defending inside,” Butler said. “Schau is a tremendous player and their size just creates a lot more problems.

“At our place, we played them very well. Tonight such was not the case,” he added. “Give Ferry credit, they are a quality team.”

Ferry did an excellent job of taking care of the ball. The Purple Riders ended with nine turnovers, but eight came in the fourth quarter with the starters already out. Union Local was guilty of 13 turnovers.

“We do a great job of taking care of the basketball. We have all year,” Sabatino said. “I was a little upset with our defense at times, but when I looked at the final score, I realized we must have done something right.”

Vargo grabbed 10 boards for the Purple, one more than Schau. Barritt and Appolloni had eight and six assists, respectively, for the Ferrians.

Union Local salvaged a split on the night, taking the jayvee affair, 49-45. Leading the way for Coach Zach Delman’s Jets was Isaac Goodson with 13 points while Jarrett Causby added 11.

Varsity scoring:

UNION LOCAL (44) – McDiffitt 1, 1-2 4; Jones 1, 0-0 2; T. Tipton 3, 0-0 7; Dunfee 2, 0-0 5; Porter 2, 2-2 8; McKivitz 3, 0-0 6; Bailey 2, 7-9 12. Totals 14, 10-13. MARTINS FERRY (71) – Schau 11, 6-7 28; Strama 5, 0-0 10; Vargo 8, 2-2 18; Barritt 3, 0-0 7; Appolloni 1, 0-0 2; Sears 0, 0-0 0; A. Burress 2, 0-0 4; D. Schau 0, 0-0 0; Edwards 0, 0-0 0; Rine 0, 0-0 0; Agnew 0, 0-1 0; J. Burress 1, 0-0 2. Totals 31, 8-9.

Three-point goals – Union Local (6) -Porter (2), Bailey (1), Tipton (1), Dunfee (1), McDiffitt (1). Martins Ferry (1) – Barritt.