When Jacob Bailey drained a three from the top of the key to give Union Local a 14-11 lead late in the first quarter, it appeared as though the Jets were going to give state-ranked St. Clairsville a go of things Friday night.
The homestanding Red Devils (8-1) went on a 15-2 run, capitalizing on turnover after turnover by the visitors, who charted five of their 23 in the frame. To compound matters, Union Local (3-8) didn't make another basket until the 7:03 mark of the third period, misfiring on all nine attempts in the second eight minutes, which resulted in St. C. owning a 26-16 upperhand at intermission.
ST. CLAIRSVILLE’S Dylan Campbell goes up for a shot as Union Local’s Colton McKivitz attempts to take a charge during Friday’s game on John Jenkins Court . The Red Devils posted a 68-45 victory. Additional images may be found at cu.timesleaderonline.com
The end result: a 68-45 Buckeye 8 beatdown on John Jenkins Court before a near-capacity crowd.
"I just complimented the kids on taking it upon themselves to guard the right man," veteran St. Clairsville head coach Kim Clifford said of his team's defensive effort. "They took it upon themselves to guard their man, especially in the second quarter."
By the time Gavin Porter hit a bonus goal early in the third panel, St. Clairsville, which was 10th in the latest Associated Press Division II poll, it was almost too little too late.
"Our kids are believing we can play with people now," Union Local's Vaughn Butler offered. "We had a good game Tuesday against (Martins) Ferry, and we had a decent game here with the exception of the second quarter.
"Hey, St. Clairsville's a very good basketball team," Butler added. "But we've got to play like we did tonight every game this season, and we haven't."
Following Porter's bucket, St. Clairsville reeled off 13 of the next 15 counters for a commanding, 39-21, advantage with 4:52 left on the clock. The Red Devils tickled the twine five times in the third frame, with Adam Jeffries knocking down two and Dan Monteroso, Jerrid Marhefka and Riley Carlton each hitting one.
The Jets could never get the deficit under double figures as the hosts canned eight of their dozen bonus bombs in the second half. They finished 12-for-27 from beyond the 3-point arc.
"That's what we do," Clifford said when informed of that stat. "Sometimes they don't all go in, and they didn't early, but once we got going we were knocking them down pretty regular there."
Six different Red Devils dialed long distance, with Marhefka leading the way with three. Jeffries, Carlton, Dylan Campbell and Jared Burghy all had two each. Monteroso finished with one.
Monteroso, a Boston College football recruit, led St. Clairsville with two dozen lightings, with 15 of those coming after the halftime break. Marhefka added 14 to round out the twin-digit scorers, but Jeffries, Carlton and Campbell evenly divided two dozen.
Bailey led all scorers with 25 points, but no other Jets player had more than seven, that being Eric Dunfee. Kaleb McDiffitt added half-a-dozen.
Union Local held a 33-28 advantage off the glass as 6-6 Colton McKivitz wiped the glass a game-best 10 times despite coming off the bench. Collin Jones had nine. Monteroso and Carlton each landed six caroms. Monteroso charted four steals and Carlton handed out a like number of assists.
St. Clairsville committed just 10 turnovers.
The victory completed a perfect three-game week for the hosts, who sit atop the OVAC Class 4-A standings. They also defeated Bellaire and Steubenville.
The Red Devils completed the sweep with a win in the preliminary game.
St. Clairsville visits Wintersville Tuesday night to face always-tough Indian Creek, which held off Martins Ferry last night. The Purple Riders visits St. C. next Friday.
UNION LOCAL (45) - McDiffitt 3 0-0 6; Dunfee 3 0-0 7; Jones 1 0-0 2; Porter 1 0-0 3; Bailey 8 6-7 25; McKivitz 1 0-2 2; Totals: 17-39 6-9. ST. CLAIRSVILLE (68) - Monteroso 10 3-3 24; Marhefka 4 3-4 14; Giffin 0 0-0 0; Jeffries 3 0-0 8; Carlton 3 0-0 8; Campbell 3 0-0 8; Burghy 2 0-0 6; Keylor 0 0-0 0; Gossett 0 0-0 0; Derosa 0 0-0 0; Totals: 25-60 6-7.
Three-Point Goals: Union Local 5 (Bailey 3, Dunfee, Porter); St. Clairsville 12 (Marhefka 3, Burghy 2, Campbell 2, Carlton 2, Jeffries 2, Monteroso)
North can be reached at email@example.com