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Clutch foul shooting down the stretch lifts Martins Ferry past Buckeye Local

CONNORVILLE — When a team has been struggling to find the win column it will take one any way it can get one. Martins Ferry did exactly that Friday night inside Buckeye Local High School.

The Purple Riders (4-8) made enough foul shots down the stretch, and twice when they failed, they tracked down the rebound to retain possession in a 44-39 triumph over the turnover-plagued host Panthers (5-9).

“We’ll take them any way we can,” an elated Martins Ferry head coach Derek Edwards said of the win. “We knew it was going to be a battle. We’re right next to each other on the (Ohio) river and they play tough up here, so this was a quality road win against a rival.”

Martins Ferry held a 38-37 advantage with 1:16 remaining after Buckeye Local’s Braydon Walker cashed in the first of a two-shot foul. Tev’n Williams made it 39-37 by meshing the first of two free throws. He misfired on the second, but teammate Jaizen Miles secured the offensive rebound and was fouled.

Miles made it 40-37 with a free throw at the 56.7-second mark, but the Panthers were guilty of a turnover at the other end of the floor, their 16th of the game. Colby Shriver was then fouled and knocked down the first free throw for a 41-37 reading. When his second shot was off the mark, Miles came down with the offensive board and sent the ball to Shriver, who was immediately fouled with 25.1 seconds left.

The Purple Riders point guard made it 42-37, and after another Buckeye Local turnover, Alex Reese connected on two free throws. The Panthers’ Ethan McHugh hit a shot at the buzzer for the final five-point margin.

“Sometimes we don’t shoot well from the foul line, so we tell our guys to play the miss and go get the ball,” Edwards said. “Those were two huge offensive rebounds by Jaizen and then by another freshman (Alex) Reese to seal the deal.

“The difference in the game was rebounding and free throws,” Edwards acknowledged.

With the hard-earned victory, Martins Ferry avenged a 56-55 loss earlier to Buckeye Local high atop the Purple City inside Tolbert Gymnasium.

The nip-and-tuck affair saw Martins Ferry own the biggest lead at seven twice, but Buckeye Local kept it close and trailed 31-28 after a Hunter Darrah putback just before the third-quarter buzzer.

The winners sank nine of 15 free tosses in the fourth quarter and the Panthers turned the ball over five times.

“Before the game I told my team that tonight’s game was going to come down to rebounding and execution, and that’s what happened,” Buckeye Local head coach Chris Heaton said. “They got those two big offensive rebounds off of missed free throws and then we come down and don’t even get a shot off on two key possessions.”

Edwards cited the effort of Williams on the defensive end of the floor as he held Buckeye Local’s Cameron Best to a mere nine points and two field goals. Best was averaging just under 12 a game.

“He really did a good job on their point guard,” Edwards noted. “Tev’n is only a freshman, so that was a great job by him. This isn’t the first time he’s been used in that role. He’s done a fantastic job.

Miles and Zach Flesch evenly split 22 points to pace the Purple Riders. Shriver added 10. Hunter Darrah led the Panthers with 10 off the bench. Luke Darrah had nine points and eight rebounds.

Martins Ferry 44, Buckeye Local 39

MF 8 10 13 13 – 44

BL 8 9 11 11 – 39

MARTINS FERRY (4-8) – Miles 4 3-4 11; Shriver 3 4-8 10; P. Hores 1 2-2 4; Williams 1 1-2 3; Flesch 4 0-0 11; Ray 0 1-3 1; L. Hores 0 0-0 0; Reese 1 2-2 4; Totals: 14-36 13-21 44.

BUCKEYE LOCAL (5-9) – McHugh 2 0-0 4; Romanyak 2 0-1 4; Walker 1 1-2 3; Best 2 4-6 9; L. Darrah 4 1-2 9; R. Deitch 0 0-0 0; H. Darrah 5 0-0 10; Totals: 16-34 6-11 39

3-point goals: MF-Flesch (3). BL-Best

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