Big Red runs past Ferry

STEUBENVILLE – Martins Ferry boys basketball coach Jeff Sabatino asked a simple question as he walked out of the locker room Friday night.

“How do you go from 12 up to 23 down?” he asked.

“We are pretty young with one senior and that might be the answer. It’s not the good answer, but it might be the true answer. At times, we’re Jeckyl and Hyde. At times we can play very, very well and in the same scenario, we can play very poorly and tonight was an indication of that.”

The Purple Riders held a 24-12 lead midway through the second quarter.

And, that was it.

Steubenville outscored them 63-28 the rest of the way for a 75-52 victory inside the Crimson Center.

“We came out flat and Martins Ferry attacked us and took it to us,” said Big Red coach Mike Haney. “It seemed like we were a step late on the trap and the guy who rotated was a step late. They got us inside with the big kid (Robert Vargo) and their guards went by us and hit a shot or dumped it inside.

“They played much better than us early. Coach Sab does a great job and their kids played hard. They got after us.”

Robert Vargo led Martins Ferry with a game-high 27 points. James Edwards added 12.

“We’ve struggled with leads so far this year,” said Purple Riders coach Jeff Sabatino. “That’s our fifth loss this year, all on the road and in each one of those, we’ve had at least an eight-point lead. In one game, 18 points.

“When we decided we were going to play poorly, it was the exact same time Steubenville decided to hit 10 shots in a row, or 9 of 10. They shot the ball great during that stretch and that’s a lethal combination.

“But, they spent much more energy than we did in the second half. We have to play harder.”

Brandon Herring-Hill scored seven of Big Red’s final eight points of the first half.

Chris Smith led the charge in the third quarter with 11 of his 17 points. Herring-Hill added seven as Big Red turned a 34-32 deficit at the break into a 56-46 lead at the end of three. Smith and Herring-Hill had 17 points each. Adam Sterling added 13 and Lucas Herrington nine.

“We gave them too many easy buckets early,” said Haney. “I thought we did a really good job of making them work the ball a lot more in the second half. We forced more turnovers and we got some easy transition points.

“Our bench guys played well, too. We went nine deep. When our kids were getting winded, we brought someone in who gave us energy. Johnnie Blue and Devin Smith came in and played well inside against the big guy.

“Vargo is a load. He’s tough.

“I thought we played much better late in the second quarter and played really well in the second half. I think they had 34 points at halftime and 18 in the second half.

“Our defense was better. Our trap was better. We were faster and moved better in the second half.”