Martins Ferry races past Harrison Central for third place in 4A

CADIZ — When you’re hot, you’re hot.

When you’re not, you’re not.

Martins Ferry was. Harrison Central was not.

That summed up Friday night’s Wheeling Hospital OVAC Boys Basketball Championships Class 4-A consolation final won by the visiting Purple Riders, 60-37, in Cadiz.

Martins Ferry (10-8) blistered the John W. Stephenson Center nets at a 64 percent (25 of 39) clip from the floor as it shot out to a commanding 24-6 advantage after eight minutes.

“For all intents and purposes, this was our last regular-season game,” veteran Martins Ferry head coach Jeff Sabatino said. “There are a couple of home games that we won’t be able to play because of the (D-III sectional) tournament coming up, so we wanted to leave a bit of legacy for this year.

“We really haven’t had all of our guys on the court at the same time that often this year because of one thing or another,” he continued. “I think Harrison is a really good team, but we wanted to play a good team and test ourselves against them before the tournament. They bought into it and brought it.

“I was really pleased with the effort and focus, particularly in the first half. I don’t know if you could play much better than that.”

Martins Ferry senior standout Cody Schau, returning from a mandatory two-game OHSAA suspension, tallied 21 of his game-high 30 points in the first half as the Purple Gang led 38-16 at the intermission. It was the sixth time he has netted 30-or-more points in a game this season.

“Cody looked like he was shot out of a cannon,” Sabatino noted. “He was playing with a purpose.”

Power forwards Tyler Strama (15) and Robert Vargo (12) teamed for 27 points down low, mostly off nifty assists from sophomore point guard Jake Barritt. The 6-5 Vargo also pulled down 14 of the Purple’s 41 rebounds, while Schau added eight. Strama and Barritt each landed six, with Barritt also dishing out eight helpers.

“Now we know what we can be,” Sabatino offered. “We just went on the road and beat a good team. We dominated them from the start, so we know what we can be. This is a good place to be when tournament time rolls around.”

For Harrison Central head coach Justin Clifford, he’s seen this scenario one too many times.

“We haven’t shot well lately,” he lamented of his team’s ice-cold 12-for-58 effort (20.7%). “We really didn’t defend tonight. Give them credit. Coach Sab does a great job with them.

“They’ve got a pretty good player. They made plays and we didn’t defend and make plays.”

Nate Olmstead came off the Huskies’ bench to fire in a team-high 15 points, which included four bonus bombs – three of them coming in the third panel.

Martins Ferry meets Buckeye 8 rival Bellaire Wednesday night at Meadowbrook High School in Byesville in tournament action. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.

Meanwhile, Harrison Central plays Beaver Local next Friday at 8 p.m. inside Ohio University Eastern’s Health and Physical Education Center in Division II sectional tournament action.

The Huskies won the JV game.

MARTINS FERRY (60) – C. Schau 11-18 7-7 30; Vargo 6 0-2 12; Barritt 0 1-2 1; Appolloni 1 0-0 2; Strama 7 1-6 15; A. Burress 0 0-0 0; D. Schau 0 0-0 0; Sears 0 0-0 0; Edwards 0 0-0 0; J. Burress 0 0-0 0; Shane 0 0-0 0; Agnew 0 0-0 0; Totals: 25-39 9-17. HARRISON CENTRAL (37) – R. Mitchell 1 0-0 2; Pelegreen 3 2-4 8; Watt 2 5-5 9; Kowalski 1 0-0 3; K. Mitchell 0 0-0 0; Olmstead 5 1-3 15; Rutter 0 0-0 0; Evans 0 0-0 0; Yoho 0 0-0 0; Redish 0 0-0 0; Miser 0 0-0 0; B. Mitchell 0 0-0 0; Johnson 0 0-0 0; Totals: 12-58 8-12.

Three-Point Goals: Martins Ferry 1 (C. Schau); Harrison Central 5 (Olmstead 4, Kowalski)

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