This one was worth the wait

It was one of those magical nights to take a deep breath and soak it all in.

Dozens of Red Devils’ fans did just that on the floor of Ohio University-Eastern’s athletic facility Thursday night. Eventually, someone was gonna have to up and kick them out the door.

After all, these district championships don’t come round every March as past postseason achievements will confirm at St. Clairsville High.

The view had to be something approaching surreal for Kim Clifford who ascended a ladder and emerged with a piece of school history.

“He’s come up short so many times before,” noted Kurt, one of three Clifford siblings savoring the moment. “All the years dad’s invested in the game. It’s just a great feeling.”

This one was proof positive nice guys do finish first, though St. C.’s 20-plus season head honcho long ago established himself a class act as a father, teacher and coach.

“This night is not going to define dad’s career,” remarked son, Justin, now running the program at nearby Harrison Central.

“For me, what’s most special is that dad’s always done it the right way.”

Going on 10 years now, Clifford’s son, Ryan, has shared moments of both joy and sorrow on the bench, making Thursday night’s result a fist-pumping triumph.

“We’ve experienced our share of frustration, so (tonight) is kinda hard to describe,” Ryan declared. “I’ve watched dad build the kind of program every coach wants to have. Our kids go out and really give it up for him. That’s why winning this district is so satisfying.”

Thus, it had to be a hot time in the old house last night. “Probably some fun and games,” smiled Kim Clifford who immediately acknowledged his life’s companion, wife Penny, for diligence above and beyond the pale.

Clifford also reminded reporters there remains another opponent to prepare for with the Red Devils making reservations for next week’s regional at Athens.

“I really want to express how much (we) appreciate the community’s support,” he noted. “To look across the floor and see so many standing and cheering gave all of us a huge lift.”


THURSDAY night’s decision over Liverpool was a repeat KO of a solid Potters’ quint which twice had the misfortune of facing an opponent in the relative confines of its own backyard. It was obvious feisty Liverpool coach Nate Conley and a contingent of Potters’ fans were displeased with the proceedings, though it seemed clear on both occasions the better ballclub prevailed…..

ST.C. is scheduled to play next Thursday’s 6:15 opener at Ohio University’s Convocation Center. The Red Devils oppose the survivor of tonight’s Chillicothe-Circleville encounter.

Should the Saints face favored Chillicothe, the Devils would contend with 6-8 center and Cleveland State recruit Malik London, a superb shot-blocker. Chillicothe’s leading scorer is 6-2 junior Zach Johnson. The team’s remaining starters stand 6-0, 5-11 and 5-10, respectively….

RED Devils’ junior ace Dan Monteroso lit up Liverpool for 21 first half points and experienced more than a few floorburns in the process, a result of two or three hard falls.

Monteroso’s teammates responded big at crunch time with EL pulling within a point late in the third quarter. Riley Carlton came up big in particular, draining a pair of tide-turning three-balls….

Gibson may be reached at rgibson@timesleaderonline.con