Irish fall in hardwood return

Photo/SHERI McANINCH St. John’s Mason Kelly dribbles the ball upcourt Tuesday.

BELLAIRE — Boys’ basketball is back at St. John Central.

The Fighting Irish hoops program was put in dry dock last year due to a lack of numbers. St. John’s launched its comeback campaign Tuesday night, but it was Beallsville doing the celebrating as the Blue Devils rolled to an impressive 76-31 triumph at the Guernsey Street Greenhouse.

The Blue Devils jumped out to a 22-14 lead after one period and methodically pulled away the balance of the night. Coach Rick Jarrett saw 10 of his charges reach the scoring column.

“It was a nice way to start the season. I think we are much improved from last year’s season,” Jarrett noted. “We got good numbers and a full jayvee team. That is something we haven’t had for a while.”

The Blue Devils went 7-16 last winter.

Dr. Doug Swartz is now at the Fighting Irish helm with seven players in tow. Only six, however, are currently eligible due to OHSAA transfer rules.

“We got a good look against multiple defenses and the press tonight,” Swartz said. “We showed that we could handle pressure when we had fresh legs. We had some early foul trouble that proved a problem.

“We found out a lot about ourselves tonight. We did some good things,” he added. “Beallsville has a nice team. Their size gave us problems.”

Beallsville exhibited fine offensive balance. Four players reached double digits for the winners with talented junior Dakota Phillips leading the way with 17 points.

Classmate Kolin Ludwig was next with 14 markers while James Schnegg and Adam Baker delivered 11 and 10 points, respectively. Jarrett emptied the Blue Devils bench in the third quarter.

Sweet-shooting junior Mason Kelly paced the Fighting Irish with 17 points. Senior ace Matt Fouty delivered eight lightings.

“We are stressing defense this year. We gave up way too many points last season,” Jarrett said. “We are trying to do a lot of different things both offensively and defensively this year. We have a nice mixture of size and athleticism.”

Beallsville broke matters open by intermission, building a 45-22 cushion. The Monroe Countians forged a 67-26 advantage after three rounds.

The Blue Devils committed 16 turnovers. St. John’s was guilty of 15 miscues.

Both teams return to action Friday night. Beallsville looks to make it two straight wins when it travels to Bridgeport while St. John’s plays host to Frontier.

No reserve game was contested.