Strong fourth quarter lifts Martins Ferry by Harrison Central

T-L Photo/SETH STASKEY MARTINS FERRY senior DeAndre Pugh gathers himself to go up for a shot against Harrison Central’s Peyton Taylor during Friday’s game in Cadiz. Pugh was solid on the interior for the Riders with 28 points and 13 rebounds.

CADIZ — Martins Ferry’s success on the basketball court is predicated on three things.

Defense, dictating the style of play and establishing its low-post game.

All three were up to par Friday evening inside the John W. Stephenson Center at Harrison Central High School.

The Purple Riders took the Huskies completely out of their style of play, made a living at the foul line and firmly established their inside game with senior standout DeAndre Pugh in a 73-60 repeat victory over the Huskies.

“It’s never going to be perfect, so we have to find ways to win,” Ferry’s Derek Edwards said. “We want to get the ball inside and we were able to to convert from the free throw line.”

Edwards is spot on with his analysis. The game was far from a work of art, but with Pugh banging around on the interior and seemingly altering every inside shot the Huskies took, the Riders were able to control the boards, too.

“Defense is first for us,” Edwards said. “We try to find ways to slow teams down, especially teams like this with (Kobe) Mitchell. We had to get up on them, but they’re very difficult to defend, so I am proud of our guys’ efforts.”

The game was played within a six-point window until the final few minutes. It was tied at 15 after one, Ferry led, 35-31, after three and the Huskies knotted the game at 46 entering the fourth.

That’s when the Riders officially took over.

Sam Santille — a back-up pivot — tallied with 6:20 to play in the game to put the Huskies on top, 51-50.

The Purple, however, was unfazed. It proceeded to score seven of the game’s next nine. Pugh, who scored a game-high 28 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, got five of those points at the line, while senior Donovan Shrodes had a goal and two free throws.

Harrison simply struggled to score in the fourth quarter. It had only three field goals and they came almost six minutes a part. Sophomore Kobe Mitchell, who is averaging 28.2 points a game, scored 22, but only had one in the final quarter.

Meanwhile, Ferry exploded for 27 points in the fourth. It knocked in 15-of-19 from the line.

“We didn’t do much that we worked on,” lamented Harrison Central head coach Justin Clifford. “We didn’t make (Pugh) guard. We let him kind of stand there and bother us by shooting pull-up jumpers. We wanted to attack him or make him come out and guard.”

Pugh, who quite simply was the difference, drained 8-of-10 from the line in the fourth.

“We want to attack the painted area,” Edwards said. “We’ll shoot some 3s, if we’re open, but we want to get the ball inside. We were able to convert from the line. We shot 73 percent from the line tonight and to do that on the road is tremendous.”

Clifford simply applauded the effort and work put forth by the Riders.

“Give them credit because they mucked it up, pushed us around and made it sloppy,” Clifford said. “We adjusted to that early, but we didn’t execute well enough throughout the game. We had mental lapses, which will cost you in a game like this.”

Pugh’s production was complemented by Shrodes, who had 13. Sophomore Logan Smith finished with 10 points and seven rebounds.

Mitchell paced the Huskies, while Evan Stine finished with 11.

Both teams are back in action on Tuesday. Martins Ferry returns home to face Bellaire, while the Huskies are on the road at St. Clairsville.