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Martins Ferry ousted by Cambridge, 54-42

MARTINS FERRY’S Danielle Lude (2) shoots against Cambridge Thursday night.

MARTINS FERRY — Leading by a point at both halftime and the end of the third quarter, Martins Ferry’s girls’ basketball team was hanging on by a thread while continually being its own worst enemy Thursday night against visiting Cambridge.

But Coach Dan Linscott’s self-proclaimed, and 11th-seeded, “undercats” managed to stay the course, take advantage of Purple Rider turnovers and nearly double their offensive output from the first three quarters over the final eight minutes of play to advance in the Ohio Division III, Region 11 sectional tournament.

Sophomore Riley Crupper hit a pair of huge fourth quarter triples, her only baskets of the contest, and the Bobcats used a big 11-0 run late to take command as Cambridge surprised sixth-seeded Martins Ferry by a 54-42 margin at Tolbert Gymnasium inside Martins Ferry High School.

The victory improves Linscott’s squad to 8-15 on the season with a trip to Magnolia up next Thursday at 7 p.m. at Sandy Valley High School. The eighth-seeded Cardinals also picked up a victory on the road last night, defeating fifth-seeded Harrison Central by a 52-51 margin.

“I am very excited about this group and can’t say enough about was a total team effort and victory (Thursday),” Linscott commented. “We have struggled to find our identity all season so it’s nice to get a win at tournament time and who knows, maybe we can put something together and make a run. We just have to go one step at a time.”

The Bobcats trailed 31-30 entering the fourth period but a pair of baskets from sophomore McKinzi Linscott put the visitors ahead for good at 34-31 with 7:20 to play. Martins Ferry (11-11) got to within 36-35 on a deuce from freshman Danielle Lude, but it took a Maria Clark basket nearly two minutes later to pull the hosts to within 43-40 with 4:47 to go.

From there it was all Cambridge as the ‘Cats went on an 11-0 run, thanks in large part to Purple Rider mistakes, to extend the margin to 54-40 with just over a minute showing.

Coach Dave Reasbeck’s Ferry squad continually shot themselves in the foot all night with 23 turnovers and numerous missed shots near the basket.

“It’s what we have done all year,” Reasbeck admitted. “And I didn’t do a very good job this year and I have to get better. We are making the same mistakes in game 22 that we made in game one and that falls on the coach. The good news is that we don’t have a senior on the roster, and nobody is leaving us. But we have to step on the gas because that team over there (Cambridge) doesn’t have a senior either.

“They played a very good schedule, and who knows, if we had their schedule maybe we would have been the number 11 seed.”

The hosts jumped to a quick 4-0 lead right out of the game only to watch the Bobcats score 10 of the next 12 points and eventually build a 15-9 lead at the end of a quarter. However, the Riders scored the first five of the second chapter and limited their guests to just four tallies in the quarter. A pair of Eve Agnew charity tosses at the 25 second mark gave the Purple a 20-19 lead at the break, their first since the opening minute.

Cambridge led by as many as four points, 28-24, in the third before Martins Ferry closed on a 7-2 run to take a 31-30 edge into the fateful final eight minutes.

“Our lead defensive players, Riley Crupper and Ziciah Gibson, were both very active all night while McKinzi (Linscott) and Camryn (Gebhart) both continually shot the gaps,” Linscott added. “The kids just played hard. And Crupper’s two three’s in the fourth quarter was just a tribute to her staying focused. I think the great defense she played helped her relax and she came through when she got the ball late.

“I can’t say enough about everything that Ziciah (Gibson) did and how Braxton (King) fought off foul trouble and played great with four in the fourth quarter. You also have to give our bench credit for weathering the storm while she was sitting.

“It’s been a tough season, but we are getting everyone back and into good shape and we are thrilled to be taking the next step. These kids are all younger and just like Dave’s (Reasbeck) group, we don’t have any seniors either.”

McKinzi Linscott finished with a game-high 15 points, and added eight rebounds, while Gibson scored 13 and King and Gebhart had nine apiece. The Bobcats grabbed a 27-22 edge off the glass and turned the ball over 13 times, 10 fewer than their hosts. Lude ended with team-highs of 13 points and eight rebounds for the Purple Riders while Clark had 11 and Allarah Jones 10.

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