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John Marshall simply too much for St. Clairsville

MOUNDSVILLE — John Marshall played one of its better halves of the season Monday night against St. Clairsville.

The Monarchs hammered the boards, shot nearly 60 percent from the floor, canned five 3-pointers and held the Red Devils to 27 percent shooting while forcing 12 turnovers.

The result was a commanding 33-17 lead at the break, a lead that reach 20 times more than once.

The second half? Not quite as pretty. JM shot an abysmal 14 percent (3 of 21) in the second half but did just enough to hold on for a 53-43 victory against the Red Devils inside the Moundsville Field House.

“We made shots in the first half which helped, but we got that lead because of our defensive intensity and, in the second half, it wasn’t there,” JM coach Brock Melko said. “That allowed them to get back in the game. Thankfully we made enough shots early we could overcome it.”

JM was 13 of 24 in the first half and seemingly couldn’t miss. It was led by Madge Lucey and Landyn Helms off the bench with eight apiece early.

Lucey, a junior and usual starter, came off the bench as the team’s seniors all started. They each hit two 3s early, but it was the steady play of the sophomore Helms that kept the Monarchs on the positive side of the ledger when it appeared the wheels were about to fall off the wagon.

Helms finished with a game-high 16 points and was a key 6 of 10 at the free-throw line in the final minutes as St. Clairsville was forced to foul late.

“Landyn hasn’t started all year, but a couple of times she’s come close to scoring 20 points,” Melko said. “When she plays like that, it makes us a different team.”

A different team is what Devils coach Stacey Agnew has seen the last few games and it’s not one he’s accustomed to seeing.

St. Clairsville couldn’t hit shots in the first half, couldn’t rebound and couldn’t hold on to the ball, as evident by 12 first-half turnovers and 23 for the game. Only eight points from sophomore Alexis Thoburn kept the visitors relatively close early.

“You can’t get down 20 points like that, you just can’t do it,” a noticeably frustrated Agnew said. “I don’t know what it is, the last two or three games, we’ve let teams get big leads and had to battle back and you can’t do that.”

The Red Devils (8-7) were second in the OVAC Class 4A standings Monday morning and had an opportunity to gain ground on first-place Martins Ferry this week. Having beat JM earlier this season at home, this was viewed as a winnable game.

“We’re battling for an OVAC spot and we’re just not gelling right now,” Agnew said. “We’ve got to be ready to play.”

Thoburn finished with 10 points, backed by eight apiece from Katie Strama and Macy Mailin, while Megan Mailin supplied seven.

For the Monarchs, Lucey finished with 10 points and eight rebounds, Catherine Hunnel scored eight and Anna Blake tallied six.

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