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St. Clairsville cruises by Ferry

T-L Photo/KIM NORTH MARTINS FERRY junior Jaizen Miles makes a move to the basket against St. Clairsville’s Will Balgo during the first half of Tuesday’s game. The Red Devils won.

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — Senior nights are special no matter how few upperclassmen a team might have.

Junior-ladened St. Clairsville (7-6) edged over the .500 mark Tuesday night with a repeat victory over Buckeye 8 rival Martins Ferry. Senior Will Balgo scored 12 points and grabbed a like number of rebounds as the Red Devils rolled past the visiting Purple Riders (5-7) by a 76-53 count on John Jenkins Court. The hosts had prevailed 56-42 inside Tolbert Gymnasium earlier this season.

“It’s always good to win on senior night. We only have two of them, but they will be missed when they are gone,” St. Clairsville head coach Ryan Clifford said. Braden Roski, who scored two points, is the other senior.

St. Clairsville sprinted to an 8-0 lead and was rarely challenged by a cold-shooting Martins Ferry squad that had been playing well of late. The Red Devils led 20-13 after eight minutes and took a 35-28 advantage into the lockerroom at the half.

After Logan Smith scored for the Purple Riders to start the third quarter, St. Clairsville went on another 8-0 run to make it 43-30, but the visitors answered with a 9-0 spurt of their own to cut the deficit to 43-39 with 2:50 left when Smith tallied again.

However, it was all St. Clairsville from there on. The Red Devils closed the third chapter by netting seven of the last nine points and continued the hot stretch with the first 11 markers of the fourth panel to put the game away.

Clifford’s crew shot sizzling 59.5 percent from the floor in the second half compared to a cool 27.8 percent for the Purple Riders.

“Eventually it doesn’t matter what the scouting report says or what the gameplan is, it’s about taking it upon yourself to guard your guy and not allow them to score. We had some guys do that in the second half,” Clifford explained as the hosts posted a 41-25 scoring advantage after halftime.

“When we defensive rebound and we’re able to get out on the break, that’s when our identity happens,” Clifford noted. “That’s what happened there a little at the end of the third quarter and the start of the fourth quarter when we were able to pull away.”

Despite the lop-sided setback, Martins Ferry head coach Derek Edwards saw some bright spots from his team.

“I thought we took another step forward. I liked the way we competed and fought hard,” Edwards said. “I don’t think we ever quit. We just have to make some shots. You’re not going to win many games shooting 30-some percent from the floor and only making 5 of 11 free throws.”

Once again the Red Devils were balanced in the scorebook. Hard-working junior Drew Sefsick led the way with 21 points, including 10 in the fourth quarter. Classmates Colin Oberdick (14) and Ryan McCort (12) divided 26 while Avery Henry added seven.

“When were good that’s the ticket. We don’t rely on just one guy to score,” Clifford added. “We share the ball really well. We move it and we’re all capable of scoring.”

Smith was one of three Purple Riders in double digits as Ryan Flesch had 11 and Peyton Hores 10.

St. Clairsville held a commanding, 43-25, advantage off the glass as Henry pulled down 10 to support Balgo. McCort added seven and Sefsick half-a-dozen.

Martins Ferry was charted with nine turnovers, which was five less than St. Clairsville.

Both teams are back in action Friday as St. Clairsville treks to Marietta and Martins Ferry welcomes Steubenville. The Red Devils are at Union Local on Saturday.

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