MARTINS FERRY - Martins Ferry's Jeff Sabatino and Indian Creek's Joe Dunlevy have much in common.
Both are veteran and very successful coaches. They are two of the best in the business. They are close friends and both were optimistic heading into the 2011-12 campaign.
A little more than a week into the regular season is where the similarities end.
Indian Creek’s Shane Winland (40) dribbles around Martins Ferry’s Robert Vargo on Friday night.
Dunlevy's invading Redskins staged a basketball clinic at both ends of the floor en route to a surprisingly easy 63-32 triumph against the Purple Riders.
The lopsided outcome lifts Creek to 3-0 while Ferry is still in search of its initial victory after two starts.
Creek will receive a litmus test Tuesday when it plays host to potent St. Clairsville. The Purple Riders will look to regain some of their shaken confidence when they visit the hangar at Union Local the same night.
"A few years ago the wins came very easy. Now they are hard to find," Sabatino said. "We are doing the same things. That is why it is so baffling.
"I still think we are a good ballclub. But the two teams we have played have made us look bad. Indian Creek is a well-seasoned and well-coached team, but we should have been able to compete better than we did."
Ferry, which fell to Steubenville in its opener, competed well for most of the opening half, before being overwhelmed by an onrushing Creek.
Creek worked itself to a 10-7 lead after one period, thanks in part to a pair of Joe Bowers' 3-pointers. The visitors closed the second quarter on a Bowers-fueled surge to push their advantage to 28-19 at the break. Bowers netted nine points in the frame, including a buzzer-beating trey.
Ferry failed to seriously threaten in the second half.
The Redskins, receiving scoring from five different players, methodically pulled away in the third period, outpointing the Purple by 20-4 for a commanding 48-23 upperhand entering the fourth quarter.
"We have a lot of experience at a lot of key positions," Dunlevy said. "Our kids played really well tonight against a good team. We are getting better on defense, especially off the ball. I know my kids will always play hard.
"We have some kids this year who really know how to play the game. (Friday night) those kids played extremely well. I felt good about this team since the summer; we will find out more about ourselves Tuesday."
Bowers enjoyed a superb shooting night against Ferry's 2-3 zone, finishing with a game-high 22 points, 15 coming prior to intermission. Talented Frank Kamarec was his top support with 12. All told, eight Redskins found the scoring column.
Junior Cody Schau was the lone twin-digit scorer for Ferry, dropping in 14 points. Sophomore post Robert Vargo came off the bench to score seven points, while hard-working junior Tyler Strama netted six markers.
Ferry was its own worst enemy, committing 19 turnovers. Creek, meanwhile, took good care of the ball, guilty of just four miscues.
"We will get back to hard work Sunday," Sabatino said. "A win would go a long way in solving some of our problems.