Martins Ferry holds off UL’s late run, 59-56

MARTINS FERRY — Being able to gut out a win is usually a very good sign for a basketball team.

Derek Edwards — the first-year Martins Ferry head coach — is certainly hopeful that thought process continues for his team.

The Purple Riders appeared to be ready to pull away from Union Local Tuesday evening inside the Tolbert Gymnasium, but the Jets had other ideas.

A furious fourth-quarter rally simply fell short for the Jets (5-5), allowing the Riders to escape with a hard-earned 59-56 victory.

“Each game there’s a new challenge and Union Local brought its ‘A’ game tonight and played a tremendous game,” Edwards said. “We had to scratch and claw for that victory, which I think is going to be a very helpful thing for us down the stretch (of the season).”

The Riders (8-1) owned what seemed like a commanding, 12-point lead with just over four minutes remaining. However, the Jets — who can fill it up in a hurry from behind the arc — caught fire.

Thanks to back-to-back triples from Jeremiah Mott and Ty Kildow along with a put-back by Cody Ray, the Jets were within five at 55-50 with just under three to play.

Darrell Price — who gave Ferry quality minutes off the bench — stopped the Riders’ bleeding with a tough leaner. The Jets, however, kept firing. And they kept making. Kildow connected from the wing and then following a turnover buried a triple from the top of the key, making it a 57-56 reading.

“There were stretches where we did a lot of good things, but there were also times where we had some lulls and kind of fell asleep on the defensive end,” Edwards pointed out. “But, a lot of that is because of the way Union Local drove and shot the ball. They made it very difficult to get stops.”

Martins Ferry got one-of-two at the line for a 58-56 upperhand. Jets’ rookie head coach Zach Delman took his final timeout.

“We drew up a play to give ourselves a chance either at the layup or a three-point opportunity,” Delman said. “We knew we couldn’t be choosy because of the defense that Martins Ferry plays.”

The Jets sliced down the lane, put up a shot off the glass, which went half way down and back out again.

“There’s nothing you can do about that,” Delman said. “We gave ourselves a chance. Down by 12 with four minutes left in the game, we could have easily packed it in, but we didn’t. That’s a credit to the kids. They fought. Ferry’s tough and they present us with a lot of match-up problems.”

Darius Ray, who led the Riders with 20 points, iced the game away by sinking one-of-two at the line with just eight tenths of a second to go.

“I liked the way our guys fought through adversity down the stretch,” Edwards said. “Having to knock down a couple of free throws to cap it off will pay down the stretch.”

In the third quarter, behind the scoring of Ray, the Riders actually stretched their lead to as many as 14 twice.

Ray’s scoring was complemented by Price’s 12 and Micade Masters, who started once again for the injured Shane Schuster, delivered 13.

Union Local was led by Kildow and Mott. They went for 22 and 20, respectively.

On the glass, the Purple Riders held a 26-20 edge. Senior Zac Selby had nine rebounds to lead the Riders, while Luke Menges had five to pace the Jets.

Martins Ferry overcame 11 turnovers, which was four more than the Jets.

Both teams are in action on Friday. Union Local hosts St. Clairsville, while the Riders trek to Harrison Central.

The Purple Riders’ jayvee squad also prevailed.