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Steubenville ends Martins Ferry’s postseason hopes

Photo by Nick Henthorn Steubenville’s Madalyn Criss goes up for a shot against Martins Ferry’s Lindse Sidon and Giana Chirpas on Saturday in the Division II East 1 District sectional championship game.

MARTINS FERRY — For the Steubenville Big Red on Saturday, their bout against Martins Ferry for the Division II East 1 District sectional championship was all about digging deep — through injury, and through a Purple Riders team that pushed them to the limit.

Big Red hit paydirt against Ferry for a 78-67 postseason victory that was as close as a three-point game midway through the fourth quarter.

“It’s an awesome feeling,” Steubenville head coach Angelita Forte said. “The girls, they earned it. Through injuries, a couple players who are out, the kids that are there pushed through, played hard and they made it happen.”

Steubenville was led by Nylah McShan who scored 26 points and grabbed nine rebounds, also blocking two shots. McShan finished with those numbers despite missing much of the third quarter, leaving with an injury at the 4:47 mark of the period nursing an apparent leg injury.

McShan returned in the fourth quarter, and was key to Steubenville pulling away, an-and-one put back and fastbreak layup giving Big Red back-to-back scores which put them up seven, 68-61 with just over three minutes to play in the game.

The lead never went under five the rest of the way, and Steubenville sealed the game at the line with Martins Ferry intentionally fouling, Bailee Beall going 5-6 as the chief foul shooter down the stretch.

“She pushed through the pain,” Forte said of McShan. “I asked her at a point there — ‘How are you feeling? Do you want me to sub for you or can you do this?’ And she told me she could do it. It was a collective effort, they all dug deep and I’m just proud of them.”

Steubenville led for most of the game, save for Martins Ferry jumping out to a 4-0 lead out of the gate, and a point late in the third where the Riders took a 49-48 lead thanks to a surge of offense from the likes of Giana Chirpas and Lindsey Best, who each reached 20 points Saturday.

While Chirpas and Best each had their best individual scoring quarters in the third, it was a 3-pointer from senior Danielle Lude which tied the game at 46 with 3:30 to play in the frame, and a 3-pointer from Lindse Sidon which put Ferry ahead 49-48 with 2:30 to go.

The swing was short-lived though, as Steubenville’s Madalyn Criss knocked down a pair of late-quarter 3’s to put Big Red back ahead by the end of the third, 54-53.

“We came back, took the lead and then [Criss] hit two 3’s to put them back up,” Martins Ferry head coach Dave Reasbeck said. “That was a huge moment. They shot the ball well- tough shots, 3’s with a hand in their face.”

There were also four ties across Saturday’s action.

Steubenville shot 8-18 from 3-point range Saturday, with Criss making four long-balls. She finished with 19 points along with three rebounds, three assists and three steals.

“We played hard, but they played very well,” Reasbeck said. “We didn’t guard well, gave up close to 80 points, that’s not gonna get the job done.”

Steubenville led 20-13 after the first quarter and led 35-32 at halftime.

Alongside McShan and Criss, Aniyah Warner scored 14 points, Beall scored 13 and grabbed six rebounds, and Sabria Jones finished with four points, nine rebounds, four assists, two steals and a block.

Big Red will face Indian Creek in the next round. Steubenville previously played Creek early in the regular season, on Nov. 30, a 44-38 win for Indian Creek.

“We played Creek earlier in the season,” Forté said. “They’re a good team, they’re well-coached, it’s a battle back-and-forth between us. I think it’ll be a great game and I’m just excited to play that game.”

After bowing out in the sectional final last season, Big Red is moving further this go-round.

“They’re putting the work in,” Forté said. “They’re overcoming adversity. They’re coming together as a team. Those are the things that will push us forward to the next game.”

For Martins Ferry, Best led the team with 22 points and four assists. Chirpas scored 20 and finished with five steals. Sidon scored eight points, and senior Danielle Lude scored six points with five rebounds, two assists and a steal in her final game.

“We had 17 wins, OVAC champs,” Reasbeck said when asked to sum up their season. “We just didn’t guard well enough today.”

Big Red’s game against Indian Creek is scheduled for Feb. 28.

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