Middle two quarters downfall for Buckeye

MARTINS FERRY – You know you are having a bad day when your team has more shots blocked than it makes in four quarters of play. Then again when teams go up against Martins Ferry’s two towers in the paint, anything can happen.

With both teams coming off opening season losses, the Purple Riders made just the right changes to allow 6-foot-6 senior Robert Vargo and 6-8 sophomore Emilio Appolloni to take away any inside game for Buckeye Local as they rolled to 79-40 win over the Panthers at the Tolbert Gymnasium Friday night.

Coach Jeff Sabatino’s Riders bounced back nicely to improve their record to 1-1. They are scheduled to play a make-up game at Edison tonight weather permitting.

Buckeye Local, looking to rebuild under rookie head coach Greg Haberfield, dropped their opener at home on Thursday to Indian Creek. They are back in action on Tuesday hosting St. Clairsville.

“By design we played differently tonight,” Sabatino said. “We wanted to force them to drive to the bucket and when they did we blocked a lot of their shots. That turned into a lot of run-in points at the other end.

“We have those two big guys inside that we were able to force them to try to shot over those guys. I also thought we shot the ball very well tonight, everybody did. We shot very poorly in the game the other night, but tonight we shot so much better.

“We played about as good as we could have played tonight. (Lucas) Agnew and (Arjay) Burress switched off and did a very good job guarding a very good player (Brennen Czuchran). He is one of the better players out there. When he shots a jump shot, it’s a jump shot. He can take those shots from anywhere because he can jump over you.”

Haberfield was impressed with the Purple Riders and was quick to point out their effectiveness against his team.

“They just took us out of our game plan early and just took away our offense,” the Panther coach said. “It was very difficult for us to handle Vargo. He plays very well defensively and he is really hard to handle down low.”

Martins Ferry’s front court tag team of Vargo and Appollino completed dominated both ends of the court. Appollino scored just four points, but latched onto seven rebounds and blocked nine Buckeye Local shots. Vargo scored a game-high 21 points and also grabbed 11 rebounds and blocked seven shots.

Czuchran led the Panther scorers with 12 points while Beall added six and Moffo closed with five. Czuchran and Jonathan Borkoski had seven each of Buckeye’s 32 rebounds.