MARTINS FERRY - Steubenville Big Red trapped and trapped and trapped some more inside the Tolbert Gymnasium at Martins Ferry High School Thursday evening.
That suffocating defense- coupled with Ferry's youthfulness at the guard spots - resulted in 22 turnovers and several easy run-out chances for transition buckets and eventually Big Red pulled away for a 77-53 victory against the Purple Riders, who've now lost three straight.
"Martins Ferry certainly had a big size advantage on us, so we felt coming in we had to pressure the ball as much as we could," said Big Red head coach Mike Haney. "We were definitely happy with the pressure."
OFF AND RUNNING — Steubenville’s Periogn West leads a fast break during Big Red’s 77-53 win at Martins Ferry Thursday.
Actually, Haney and Big Red were just happy to get on the court after what's been a stressful week with the holiday combined with the off-court distractions that have been circling Steubenville of late.
"These kids are resilient and tough," Haney said. "When they're on the basketball court, it's all about basketball and not being worried about other things. We've just been telling them to keep working. It's nice to get back in the groove of playing."
The Riders, meanwhile, couldn't overcome their lack of court time. After obviously taking Christmas Day off, Jeff Sabatino - and several other coaches in the Ohio Valley - canceled practice due to weather on Wednesday.
"We didn't practice for two days and it was obviously a glaring factor in the game," Sabatino said. "Then to play a game, it certainly bothered us. We didn't get a chance to work on transition defense, but you'd think as the game went along, you'd catch on."
Yes, you would think that, but it never happened for the Riders, who fell behind early, 11-2, and were never able to recover. The Riders never got on a run and didn't get any closer than eight points after the game's opening few minutes.
"Getting out of the gate early, especially when you're on the road, is a big key," Haney said. "A couple of years ago, we were down like 19-2 or something down here and never really got back in it, so the quick start was big for us."
Steubenville led 16-8 after one, 31-20 at the intermission. Steubenville just kept picking Riders' pockets and converting for buckets in the second half, scoring 46 points.
"We looked fatigued when we should have been well-rested," Sabatino said. "I don't know. I would have bet that no one could have done to us what we (Steubenville) did tonight."
Big Red played very unselfishly, which Haney believes is becoming a trademark of his now 5-2 combine. Four players reached double figures with Tajuan Lawson leading the way with 19.
Mylik Young turned in a strong performance with 17 points and 12 rebounds. Brandon Herring-Hill had 14 points and slick point guard Periogn West added 13 tallies.
"No one on this team is selfish," Haney said. "If they see someone with an open shot, they don't hesitate to give the ball up to the open guy. We're definitely happy with that. Plus, we shot the ball well tonight."
Martins Ferry was once again led by steady senior Cody Schau, who just knows how to score the basketball. He finished with 20 points and eight rebounds. Junior post Robert Vargo had 13 points and 10 rebounds.
Sophomore point guard Jake Barritt netted eight points.
Ferry used its size and length for a 36-29 edge on the boards. Big Red was guilty of 12 fewer turnovers than the hosts.
Big Red 77, Martins Ferry 53
Steubenville 16 15 23 23 - 77
Martins Ferry 8 12 16 17 - 53
STEUBENVILLE (77) - West 6, 0-0 13; Linn 1, 2-2 4; Bailey 0, 0-0 0; Lawson 7, 2-2 19; Herrington 0, 0-0 0; Young 7, 3-4 17; Sterling 2, 0-0 4; Smith 3, 0-0 6; Perdue 0, 0-0 0; Herring-Hill 6, 0-0 14; Totals: 32, 7-8 77.
MARTINS FERRY (53) - Barritt 3, 0-0 8; Sears 1, 1-2 4; Burress 0, 0-0 0; Vargo 6, 1-3 13; Schau 9, 2-3 20; Appolloni 0, 0-0 0; Strama 4, 0-0 8; Agnew 0, 0-0 0; Totals: 23, 4-8 53.
Three-Point Goals: S - West, Lawson (3), Herringhill (2). MF - Barritt (2), Sears.