Bellaire races past Martins Ferry, 69-37

MARTINS FERRY — Even when good basketball teams have an off night shooting, other areas of their game have to step up. That was the case Monday night when a pair of undefeated Buckeye 8 girls’ squads faced off inside Tolbert Gymnasium high atop the Purple City.

Despite converting on just 42 percent of its attempts from the floor, Bellaire (3-0) used its three-phased defensive package to roll past homestanding Martins Ferry, 69-37.

Big Reds’ head coach John Farrier sounded more like a meteorologist instead of a basketball coach in the first half. He could be heard screaming out weather-related words like “Hurricane,” “Tornado,” and “Tsunami” to his team when the Purple Riders (2-1) had the ball in their end of the court.

“That’s our natural disaster defensive package,” Farrier acknowledged. “It’s worked for us for three years now.”

Bellaire ran out to a 9-1 lead early before Martins Ferry closed strong to trail 13-9.

The Big Reds doubled up the Purple Riders in chapter two as Natalie Stoner netted 15 of her game-high 24 points. Katrina Davis added nine points and five offensive rebounds in the second quarter as the margin grew to 33-19.

“We did not shoot the ball very well in the first half, and I told the girls that at halftime,” Farrier said of his team’s 13-for-36 effort from the floor. “We didn’t look good at all offensively, but we were still led by 14. I thought, however, our effort was there on the defensive end. That was the key, I thought.

“Defensively, I liked our intensity. I thought we played really well on defense.”

The defensive pressure seemed to wear down Martins Ferry, which was charted with 23 turnovers, 13 of which came in the first half.

“I thought we wore them down. The more possessions we have on offense means the more the opponent has to work on defense,” Farrier added. “We didn’t shoot our best tonight, but we wore on them.”

On the flip side, Bellaire took care of the basketball when it had possession. The Big Reds were guilty of 10 miscues, with four of those coming before halftime.

“I really didn’t notice that many (turnovers), and if I didn’t yell at them too much, we must’ve taken care of the ball,” he added.

Martins Ferry head coach Paul Matuska said his team got caught up in Bellaire’s up-tempo style of play.

“We knew the fullcourt pressure was coming, we just didn’t take care of the basketball,” he lamented. “We got into that running game with them and we’re not going to win that. We preached all week about taking care of the basketball and not getting into that rush-and-shoot. we just didn’t do that tonight.”

To show the Big Reds balance on offense, Stoner became the fourth player to eclipse the 20-point barrier in just three games.

“That’s why we’ve been so successful thus far. We have girls that can put it through the hole. We also have girls that are very unselfish.”

Davis finished with 12 points. Maci Crozier and Michaela Flaherty evenly divided 18. Davis also charted six steals and handed out four assists. Flaherty yanked down half-a-dozen rebounds.

Davis completed her double-double with a dozen rebounds as Bellaire held a commanding, 37-18, advantage off the glass.

“If she was in a 5-10 frame she would have about 30 rebounds a night,” Farrier said of the 5-2 cat-quick Davis, who led the Big reds in rebounding last season. Of her 12 boards, eight came on the offensive end. “She has that nose for the ball. She knows where it is going to go and she uses her body exceptionally well. She puts herself in position to get them (rebounds).”

Madison Ging scored 12 points to lead Martins Ferry. Jaden Stalder added 11. Richella Spielvogel had 10 rebounds.

The Purple Riders hit the road Thursday at St. Clairsville. Bellaire, meanwhile, hosts the Red Devils next Monday.

Martins Ferry avoided a sweep by winning the JV game.