MARTINS FERRY - If a truckload of OVAC points and Buckeye 8 positioning weren't enough for Martins Ferry and Harrison Central during their game Monday night, there was the longtime friendship and brief rivalry of the head coaches.
Huskies coach Nick Yourkovich had never lost to Dave Reasbeck and the Riders since being hired in Cadiz.
And if the game had been, maybe a few minutes longer, that streak might have continued. However, at the end of 32 minutes, the Riders had scored their eighth victory in 10 outings by virtue of a hard-earned 60-55 triumph.
"I think I am the only guy happy with this win because the girls are mad," Reasbeck said. "We don't shut it down very well, but that's one of the first times since this group has been playing where we had a lead and had to shut it down like that to preserve the win."
The Riders owned what seemed like a commanding 17-point lead in the middle stages of the fourth quarter, but the gritty Huskies didn't wilt. And the Riders continued to play their style, which turned out to be almost too fast.
"They came out and out-played us, out-hustled us and out-scrapped us for the first 29 or so minutes," Yourkovich said. "When we don't play 100 percent, we're not very good, and that's what got us in that hole. We laid back and played passive defense, which is not what we coach."
Down the stretch, the Huskies were within six at 58-52, but junior point guard Meghan Rose calmly sank two foul shots, which pushed the lead back to eight.
Those were answered by talented senior Madison Richards, who sank a pair after a Riders' player was hit with a technical foul for slamming the ball. Trailing by six and with the basketball, the Huskies' inability to hit a shot from the perimeter caught up with them.
"Luckily, they missed some foul shots and we played with a sense of urgency," Yourkovich said. "Ultimately, it came down to us probably missing 14 or 15 layups and we were 1 of 11 from 3 and we let (Jessica) Kinney go off."
They had a good look from 3, which would have inched them within two after Julie Kelly had connected on 1 of 2 at the line to reach the final verdict, but it rimmed out and Ferry was fouled, but continually misfired from the foul line, but Harrison couldn't capitalize.
All told, the Riders were true on only 13 of 35 from the line for the game and 8 of 23 in the fourth.
"To shoot like that (from the foul line) and beat a team that was 9-2?," Reasbeck said. "I'll take the victory. I'm not worried about the foul shooting. We'll fix that."
The Riders led 16-10 after one, 25-18 at the break and 41-31 after three.
"It was a close game; then we were in control and then when we get to play fast, we do well, but as soon as we had to put the brakes on, we didn't too well," Reasbeck said. "It's not a concern because it's something we can work on in practice."
The Riders were led once again in the scoring column by junior standout Kinney, who poured in 25 points. Ashleigh Ray netted 13 points before fouling out. Junior Kylie Stalder shook off a rough shooting night to finish with 11.
Richards paced Harrison Central with 22 points. Freshman Katie Ellzy added 10 off the bench.