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St. Clairsville falls to Steubenville

T-L Photo/KIM NORTH ST. CLAIRSVILLE’S Avery Henry (55) goes up for two of his team-high 24 points Tuesday night but it wasn’t enough in a 78-75 loss to visiting Steubenville on John Jenkins Court. Big Red’s Quinn McCoy (32) and Zion Sawyer (4) defend.

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — There are times in athletics when two teams play their tails off, only for one of them to come up a little short on the final scoreboard. That was the case Tuesday night.

Steubenville, which trailed by 10 points early in the third quarter, took its first lead of the night, 57-56, on Zion Sawyer’s three-pointer to start the fourth. The shot sparked Big Red as they scored seven of the final 12 points in a thrill-packed, 78-75, victory..

“This was a great high school basketball game. That’s what people expect when these two teams get together,” Steubenville head coach Mike Haney said. “Both teams played really hard.”

St. Clairsville’s Ryan Clifford echoed those sentiments.

“That was a heck of a high school basketball game. It’s really a shame that we lost,” he offered. “It was a game that you could tell from about the third quarter on that whatever team made a spurt last was probably going to win, but we had chances.

“Our execution on the offensive end in the second half was pretty flawless to be pretty honest with you,” he continued. “But defensively we lost their shooters a couple of times and they made some shots, and we will tip our hats to a couple of them.”

The teams were knotted seven times, including twice in the fourth panel, when Steubenville outscored St. Clairsville, 24-19.

Leading 75-73 after Sawyer made the first of two free throws with just under a minute remaining, but he missed the second. However, teammate Quinn McCoy collected the loose ball and Steubenville called a timeout with 47.2 showing. When play resumed, Sawyer was once again fouled. This time he misfired on the front end of a 1-and-1, but Brenton Jones was able to come up with the ball for the visitors.

“They were huge,” Haney said of the two late offensive rebounds. “Quinn got the first one and we called a timeout. Then after they fouled us, we were able to get another one from Brenton. Those were both key down the stretch.”

“They got two rebounds there, but if you would have seen the first game we played compared to tonight, we got every rebound tonight for the most part,” Clifford noted. “I’m not going to let those two cloud the effort we put on the defensive glass. Up there (earlier this season) they got 20 more field goal attempts than we did and I barely remember them getting a second shot tonight.”

Chase Zimmerman, who netted 10 points off the bench, was fouled with 34.3 left to play. He made the first for a 76-73 lead, but missed the second.

“We have to do better at the free throw line. In the first game against them we were able to make our free throws, tonight we missed them but got the two big offensive rebounds,” Haney said. “We didn’t lead very much. It was that type of game.”

After a timeout, the Red Devils worked the ball inside to mammoth Avery Henry and the 6-8, 350-pounder laid the ball off the glass for the final two of his 24 points for a 76-75 reading at the 17.5-second mark.

St. Clairsville fouled Phaeton Hill with 14.7 ticks remaining. His first shot rolled around the rim twice before dropping through the net, while the second hit nothing by nylon.

The Red Devils called timeout to setup a possible game-tying shot, but Drew Sefsick’s hurried three from the left wing was off the mark as McCoy came down with it at the buzzer.

Sawyer tallied 17 of his team-best 22 points in the second half while Cade Kernahan added 13. Andrew Gresko chipped in nine while Hill, McCoy and Jones all scored eight each. McCoy snagged nine rebounds. Jones had eight.

In addition to Henry’s two dozen, the Red Devils also received 19 from Will Balgo, 13 from Ryan McCort and 10 from Sefsick. Colin Oberdick finished with nine. Henry and Balgo evenly split 16. Oberdick added seven.

“That’s what he can do. You could tell when he got here tonight that he had a different look than he had last Friday,” Clifford said of a loss to New Philadelphia. “We were ready to play and it showed. He’s a handful inside when he is aggressive like he was tonight.”

St. Clairsville is idle until next Tuesday when it entertains Harrison Central in another ‘Clifford Bowl.’ Steubenville is back in action Thursday when it hosts Indian Creek. Big Red travels north on Ohio 7 Friday to East Liverpool.

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