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Ferry hangs on at Buckeye Local, 52-49

CONNORVILLE – There was a point in the season where Martins Ferry would have let Friday night’s game slip through its fingers.

   However, it’s clear to see the Purple Riders are starting to turn the corner.

Martins Ferry was able to overcome rough foul shooting and nine Buckeye Local 3-point goals to avenge a December setback, 52-49 on the road.

“I am proud of our effort and I like the direction we’re heading,” Ferry head coach Derek Edwards said. “It’s a lot of credit to the kids because they’ve gotten in the gym, stayed positive with one another, accepted coaching and our execution is starting to take a turn. We just need to keep it going.”

While the Purple Riders (4-6) have now won two in a row, Buckeye Local, which was one of the area’s best stories early in the season, has dropped three of four and are now 7-5 on the season.

    “When the ball goes in (the basket), good things happen,” Buckeye Local head coach Chris Heaton said. “We’re struggling with shot selection right now, which is putting us in a tough spot defensively, but our kids keep fighting and battling. We just have to come back and get better and keep working.”

    The Panthers came out and jumped out to an early lead that grew to as many as 14 in the first half, but the Purple Riders righted the ship. They fought back to tie the game at halftime and then took a two-point lead into the fourth quarter at 38-36.

    “We didn’t play very well in the first and fourth quarters,” Edwards said. “I loved how we played offense and how energetic we were on defense.”

    In the fourth, the Purple Riders appeared on their way to delivering a knock-out blow a couple of times. Each time, however, the Panthers had other ideas.

    Leading by five, Ferry fouled Jake Mayle on a 3-pointer and he drained the shot and the charity toss. But, the momentum was short-lived. Zach Flesch – who dialed long distance three times – cashed in one of those bonus goals.

    Following an empty possession by Buckeye, Ferry senior Logan Smith not only put his team up by six at 48-42, but he achieved a personal milestone, netting his 1,000th career point, becoming just the 11th male player in Ferry history to score a grand.

    From there, the Panthers were able to hang around because of the Riders’ aforementioned woes from the line. Ferry missed seven of nine in the period and 11 for the game.

    “We were abysmal at the line,” Edwards said. “When you shoot 33% from the free throw line, on the road, you’re not supposed to win those games. We have to make free throws down the stretch. We’ve shot better from the line the last few games, but they’re called free throws for a reason. They’re free shots and we have to make those.”

    As the Riders kept clanging foul shots, Buckeye chipped away. Mayle got two at the line himself and then Cameron Best got a steal in the backcourt and buried a trey, making it 51-49.

    Riders junior Jaizen Miles finally got one-of-two to go at the line, setting up the final possession. Buckeye Local – cleanly – dribbled the ball up the floor and got a wide-open look from the wing to force overtime, but the shot came up just short.

    “We got a shot and it just came up just short,” Heaton said. “It was a good look and really that’s all we were looking for.”

    Ferry was led by Smith, who finished with 16. It gives him 1,001 points in his illustrious career.

    “(Scoring 1,000 points) isn’t easy to do and it’s a tremendous individual accomplishment for Logan,” Edwards said. “There’s not been a lot of guys come through Martins Ferry to do it, so I am very proud of him because he’s worked hard to do it. His teammates have worked hard at it, too. They did a great job of getting him the ball.”

    Backing Smith in the scoring column was hard-working junior post Peyton Hores. He blue-collared his way to 10 points and seven rebounds. Flesch and Miles evenly divided 18.

    Buckeye Local was paced by Mayle’s 22. Best finished with 14 in top support.

    The Riders don’t have long to celebrate. They’re back in action this afternoon at 1 against Indian Creek. Buckeye Local will visit Barnesville on Tuesday.

Martins Ferry 52, Buckeye Local 49

MARTINS FERRY (52) – Smith 7, 2-2 16; Miles 4, 1-5 9; Ray 1, 0-0 2; Flesch 3, 0-0 9; Hores 4, 2-7 10; Shriver 3, 0-0 6; Bennett 0, 0-0 0; Totals: 22, 5-14 52. BUCKEYE LOCAL (49) – McHugh 3, 0-0 6; Brown 3, 0-0 7; Mayle 7, 3-3 22; Grabbits 0, 0-2 0; Best 5, 1-2 14; Taylor 0, 0-0 0; Zanes 0, 0-0 0; Totals: 18, 4-7 49.

3-point goals: MF – Flesch (3), Shriver (2). BL – Brown, Mayle (5), Best (3).

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