It was business as usual Tuesday night for the St. Clairsville boys' basketball team.
The state-ranked Red Devils (15-2) made the short trip west on I-70 to score a repeat victory over homestanding Union Local, 73-38, inside 'The Hangar' in Buckeye 8 action in Morristown.
With the starters combining for 37 of the visitors 40 first-half points, including senior Dan Monteroso with 18, St. Clairsville held a 40-19 advantage at the half.
UNION LOCAL’S Kaleb McDiffitt dribbles the ball upcourt while St. Clairsville’s Jerrid Marhefka trails the play Tuesday night in Morristown. The Red Devils prevailed. Additional images can be found at cu.timesleaderonline.com
"We just want to get better every game ... every possession," veteran St. Clairsville head coach Kim Clifford said. "We started out a little shaky shooting the ball, but once we got going we did a really nice job."
Leading 32-19 with 2:07 left in the first half, the Red Devils, who were tied for fifth in the latest Division II poll with defending state champion Dayton Dunbar, went on a 26-0 run that ran the count to an unsurmountable 58-19 cushion before the Jets' Jacob Bailey knocked down a three-pointer with 3:26 to go in the third panel.
"We tightened up our defense some and that allowed us to get some runouts," Clifford explained. "Then we came down and hit some threes. Some of them were off the break, some of them were off of our offense. I was really pleased with that."
For the game, the Red Devils shot an even 50 percent (28-56) from the floor. Union Local, meanwhile, managed just 30 percent (15-50).
"We just didn't compete," Union Local head coach Vaughn Butler said. "They shot the ball very well, but we didn't get out on their shooters. We didn't rebound well. We didn't check out their shooters and second shots hurt us as well."
The 26-0 surge was fueled by Monteroso, the Purdue University football recruit, who had six of his game-high 21 during the run. Included in his point total was a two-handed dunk off a missed shot in the first quarter that brought the Red Devils' faithful to their feet.
St. Clairsville's starting five went to the bench in the waning moments of the third quarter and remained there as the substitutes got plenty of playing time.
"We've played a lot of games here in a short period, so it was good to get the other guys some playing time tonight," Clifford added. "Some of them knocked down shots, and they played well."
The Red Devils bench combined for 18 points, with Jared Derosa leading the way with seven, which included a pair of trifectas. Zach Keylor pulled down six rebounds.
In addition to Monteroso, two other Red Devils reached double digits, those being Riley Carlton (13) and Adam Jeffries (10). Jerrid Marhefka finished with nine.
Monteroso completed his double-double with a game-best 15 rebounds, with half-a-dozen coming off the offensive glass. He rounded out his all-around game with five assists, a trio of steals and two blocked shots. He was 9-for-12 from the floor, but meshed seven straight after misfiring on his first two attempts.
Bailey and Gavin Porter evenly divided 20 markers to lead now 6-12 Union Local. Eric Dunfee and Trenton Tipton each scored six off the bench. Colton McKivitz had seven of the Jets' 26 rebounds.
St. Clairsville tickled the twine 11 times from behind the three-point arc.
The Red Devils also had six less turnovers at 14-8.
With the runaway win, St. Clairsville cemented the No. 1 seed in next week's Wheeling Hospital/OVAC Tournament in the Class 4-A bracket. The first round pairings will be announced today.
St. Clairsville won the JV game to improve to 12-3.
ST. CLAIRSVILLE (73) - Monteroso 9 1-3 21; Carlton 4 2-2 13; Giffin 1 0-0 2; Jeffries 4 0-0 10; Marhefka 4 0-0 9; Campbell 1 1-2 4; Burghy 0 0-0 0; Keylor 1 0-0 2; Derosa 2 1-2 7; Gossett 1 0-0 2; Coleman 0 0-0 0; Panepucci 1 1-1 3; Totals: 28-56 6-10. UNION LOCAL (38) - Bailey 4 0-1 10; Sill 0 0-2 0; McDiffitt 2 0-0 4; Porter 4 2-3 10; Jones 0 0-0 0; McKivitz 1 0-0 2; T. Tipton 2 2-4 6; C. Tipton 0 0-0 0; Dunfee 2 0-2 6; Totals: 15-50 4-12.
Three-Point Goals: St. Clairsville 11 (Monteroso 2, Carlton 3, Jeffries 2, Marhefka, Campbell, Derosa 2); Union Local 4 (Dunfee 2, Bailey 2)
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