Martins Ferry fends off Union Local by 10
MARTINS FERRY — Derek Edwards was not a happy camper Tuesday night. He left Tolbert Gymnasium in a much better frame of mind Friday night.
Three days after his Purple Riders dropped a lopsided verdict to St. Clairsville, Edwards’ charges bounced back to pocket a hard-earned 57-47 win over a feisty Union Local outfit.
The outcome left both teams with 1-1 marks.
“I think we took a step in the right direction tonight,” Edwards said. “Having No. 10 (Cody Olson) back in the lineup definitely helped. With him and Rueben (Hilson), we can really control our offense.”
Olson missed the opener as he was still nursing a shoulder injury suffered in the Purple Riders’ football finale against Bellaire.
The game was up for grabs until the final minutes.
The Purple Riders held a 41-38 edge entering the fourth quarter. The hosts opened some breathing room on a three-point play by talented junior Logan Smith at the 3:50 lighting, pushing the Purple lead to double digits at 52-42.
UL’s Matt Batemen meshed a free throw at the 3:29 juncture to cut the deficit to nine. After a series of turnovers, Ferry’s Elijah Smith knocked down a key trey for the Purple with 2:50 to play, making it a 55-43 reading.
Nathan Meyer goaled to bring the Jets back to within 55-45 before rising sophomore Jaizen Miles delivered the dagger with a layup with 59 seconds remaining for an insurmountable 57-45 Ferry advantage.
Miles and Smith made the most of their decided height advantage, tallying 18 and 17 points, respectively. Hilson was next with eight tallies while also producing fine floor play.
Junior sharpshooter Cade Latham paced the Jets with 14 points, including four treys. Gutty junior Luke Merritt added eight points despite playing with a bandaged head after sustaining a bad cut in a fall to the floor in the first half.
“We got into some early foul trouble and I thought that hurt us. But our depth really showed tonight,” Edwards said. “That is a big difference from a year ago. We are a much deeper team.
“In the second half we clamped down on them much better defensively. They shoot the ball really well,” he added. “I have a lot of respect for Union Local and Coach (Zach) Delman. I think he is one of the best coaches in the Ohio Valley.”
UL used a pair of Latham treys to gain a 15-12 lead after the opening quarter. The Jets remained on top 28-24 at intermission.
“I have been coaching 13 years and this is the hardest I have ever had a team play. They gave a great effort,” Delman offered. “Martins Ferry is a tough team to defend. Their size is an issue.
“I thought we lost our composure a little bit at the end of the third quarter and beginning of he fourth,” he added. “But if we play with the effort we did tonight, we will win our share of games.”
Ferry committed 13 turnovers. The Jets had 14.
Coach Ron Hill’s Purple Riders pulled out an exciting 58-56 win in the prelim. Jayden Grey fueled the Jets with 14 points.
UL hosts St. Clairsville Tuesday while Ferry visits Harrison Central the same evening.