RAYLAND - Consistency is something basketball coaches have been seeking since practice started back in early November.
Martins Ferry's girls had it for a while Thursday night, and so did Buckeye Local.
However, when it was all over and done, the Purple Riders (9-3) had posted a 43-40 triumph over the homestanding Panthers (3-10).
"We have yet to play a full four-quarter game," said Martins Ferry head coach Lindsay Coyne "We usually play a bad first half and a good second, or vice versa.
"We need to put together a good 32-minute game, and it has to be very quick. We've got some big powerhouses that we have to play coming up on our schedule."
It was the first half that Martins Ferry played its best as Jessica Kinney netted nine of her game-high 19 points in the initial eight minutes. The all-Ohioan's performance helped the Purple to a 13-7 advantage.
Kinney's basket with 5:11 on the second-quarter clock gave the visitors a 19-9 bulge, but Buckeye Local kept battling behind Kayla Fillipovich. The 6-foot senior, basically playing on one leg due to a knee injury, scored eight of her team-best 18 counters in the quarter as they trailed 28-17 at the half.
A basket by Megan Rose to start the third quarter bumped the count to 30-17, but the Panthers reeled off the next 10 points to whittle the deficit to 30-27 as Fillipovich banked one off the glass with 3:42 showing. She had half-a-dozen points in the surge, while Kierstyn Czuchran meshed a pair of free throws and Lauren Swiger kissed one off the glass.
Martins Ferry answered when senior Kylie Stalder drained a triple for a 33-27 count. The visitors would hold the upper hand after three panels, 39-34.
The final quarter was anything but a thing of beauty as the teams combined for a grand total of 10 points, with the Panthers recording six of those. However, the closest they could get would be three points - twice - including the final margin.
"That was really a tale of two halves," said Buckeye Local head coach Willy Luther. "The first half we got outhustled and our effort wasn't what we expect from them. The second half we did a much better job of hustling for loose balls, and their effort was really, really good.
"When our effort and hustle are there, we can play pretty well."
The Panthers were coming off a big win against East Liverpool Wednesday night, but Luther said he stressed to the girls that tonight (Thursday) was a new night.
"We talked in the lockerroom about coming out and giving everything we've got," he said. "Whether we're on the court for 5 seconds or the entire game. We have to have effort and you've got to be able to play for four quarters.
"Consistency is something we're striving to find. We did a good job in the second half, but we had three turnovers in the final minute or so."
Martins Ferry led 41-38 before Tyrah King powered her way to two points in the lane at the 2:07 mark. Following a missed bonus situation by the Purple Riders, Becky Zeroski weaved her way through traffic to find the bottom of the basket, making it 43-40 with 22.6 ticks left to play.
After Martins Ferry called a 30-second timeout, a jump-ball situation gave possession to Buckeye Local with 19.5 remaining.
Amy Balk was then fouled with 10.1 left and missed both shots, but rebounded her own miss. Her shot at the basket was off the mark as Rose rebounded and the Purple Riders were able to run out the clock.
"It's a win. It's a Buckeye 8 win," said Coyne. "Give Buckeye credit. They battled back."
Martins Ferry 43, Buckeye Local 40
Martins Ferry 13 15 11 4 - 43
Buckeye Local 7 10 17 6 - 40
MARTINS FERRY: K. Stalder 2 0-0 5; Kinney 7 4-4 19; M. Stalder 1 0-0 2; Rose 2 0-0 4; Oberdick 0 1-2 1; Suriano 2 0-0 6; King 2 0-0 4; DeLeonardis 0 0-0 0; Lee 1 0-0 2; Totals: 17-52 5-7 43. 3-pointers:?Suriano 2, Kinney, K. Stalder.
BUCKEYE LOCAL: Swiger 2 1-2 5; Fillipovich 8 2-2 18; Valuska 1 0-0 2; Czuchran 0 2-2 2; Balk 2 0-2 4; Zeroksi 3 2-2 8; Leonard 0 1-2 1; Banal 0 0-0 0; Totals: 16-40 8-12.