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Martins Ferry powers way past River

HANNIBAL — There was a tempered level of excitement inside Martins Ferry’s locker room following its 63-45 girls’ basketball victory against River on Saturday afternoon.

As Purple Riders head coach Dave Reasbeck emerged from his locker room just outside the R.L. Potts Gymnasium, he said his players weren’t exactly jubilant over their third straight victory. Instead, they were more frustrated they didn’t play better.

“They know we didn’t play well,” he said. “We all know we didn’t play very well.

“But, we won. Anytime you come down and get a road win, you have to be happy about it. I mean, that’s three in a row, so we just have to build upon it.”

After dropping its opener at Shadyside, Martins Ferry has posted a trifecta of victories, including one Thursday night at Bellaire. Following that triumph, Reasbeck expressed concern about hitting the road again Saturday for a matinee start against the Pilots.

His concerns proved somewhat valid as both teams looked sluggish coming out of the gate. Still, the Purple Riders were able to grab some early momentum thanks to an 11-3 run fueled by three points from Richella Spielvogel and six from Maddie Ging via a pair of 3-pointers.

Ging finished with a game-high 18 points in her return after missing the fourth quarter Thursday after injuring her head during a fall to the floor.

The Purple Riders slowly, but surely, added to their lead in the second, although the route was through the free throw line. Both teams combined for just four field goals in the quarter, but Martins Ferry finished the half with a decided advantage at the charity stripe.

Maria Clark, scored six of her 12 points from the line in the period, as the Purple Riders went 10 of 17 from the stripe in building a 30-15 halftime advantage. The Pilots, meanwhile, were 1 of 10 from the line. They finished 4 of 20 for the game.

Hannah Raper drained one of her five 3-pointers (15 points) early in the third quarter bringing the Pilots to within 13 at 32-19. But Martins Ferry answered with a 10-0 run bookended by 3s from Shyla Schuster (12 points) and Ging that made the score 42-19 with about 3 minutes left in the period.

“We’ve played good in the second half for some reason,” Reasbeck said. “In the third quarter, we always seem to turn it up a little bit. This is the fourth game we’ve done that. If we can manage to do that in the second quarter that’d be great.”

Alli Long, who finished with 13 points, got River’s deficit under 20 with a jumper near the end of the third quarter. But Martins Ferry answered with a 9-0 run to open the fourth to push the margin over 30 — 56-25.

Just like in its opener, when it scored just 18 points, the youthful Pilots struggled to make shots — from the field and the line.

“We’re better than we were two weeks ago, but were still making enough mistakes to get ourselves in a hole that’s too big to climb out of,” said River assistant coach Scott Piatt, who filled in postgame for head coach Rick Isaly, who left right after the final horn sounded to leave for Marietta College to watch his son, Lukas, play.

The Pilots will look for their first victory Monday at winless Bridgeport. Ferry welcomes St. Clairsville that same night with a big contest against unbeaten Union Local looming Thursday in “The Hangar.”

“My expectations are high for this team,” Reasbeck said. “I know they can get better. We’re getting there.”

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