GLEN DALE - Mark McCormick never lost faith in his team Saturday.
That team never lost faith in its coach.
And when all was said and done at John Marshall High School, that bond between coach and team helped fuel one of the most exciting victories in school history.
Martins Ferry’s Meghan Rose (11) steps in front of pass intended for John Marshall’s Kylie Howard on Saturday in Glen Dale.
Alexis Montes registered game-highs of 28 points and 20 rebounds as the Monarchs pulled away in the second overtime for a 77-72 girls' basketball triumph against Martins Ferry.
This game had many storylines. But in the end it was JM's resiliency and will to win that ruled the day.
''It was a great team win,'' an exhausted McCormick said, still trying to let what had just happened sink in.
''We had our backs against the wall. We had some turmoil and adversity and we fought through it like we always do.''
JM trailed by 13 after three quarters, by eight with 2:03 left in the game and by five with 11.1 remaining in regulation.
At that point, the Monarchs inbounded the ball, sprinted downcourt and Sissy George canned a 3-pointer from the right wing to make it a 63-61 game with 5.3 seconds left.
Following a JM timeout, Ferry's Dionna Lee was fouled with 4.0 seconds remaining. She made the second of two free throws to make it a 64-61 game.
With no timeouts left, the Monarchs immediately inbounded the ball. Kristin Lewicki sprinted downcourt and fired a shot from just beyond the 3-point arc.
The ball bounced around for a second, then dropped in to send the Monarchs faithful into a frenzy and the game to overtime.
''I have to give Coach (Jeff) Stephens credit on that one,'' McCormick said. ''We do a 'Shoot the Moon' drill (in practice) where we put like 1.9 seconds on the clock and we practice scenarios ... getting the ball and attacking the bucket.
''With her quickness I thought we had a chance to get a decent shot off and we did.''
Lewicki's buzzer-beat came after Montes' at the end of the third sparked the rally.
''I had a little body english going on that one,'' McCormick said laughing about Lewicki's shot. ''I was like 'Did they count it or did they not count it?' ''
It marked the first time the Purple Riders didn't have the lead since the opening moments.
''She made a heckuva shot,'' Martins Ferry coach Dave Reasbeck said. ''Then we had a chance in overtime, too. But we just didn't make the plays.''
Ferry's up-tempo game paid dividends early on. But with time winding down in regulation, Reasbeck cautioned his squad to slow things and hold the lead. That didn't happen.
''We have a hard time going below the speed limit,'' Reasbeck said. ''We push, push, push then the pressure starts kicking in and we have a tough time coming back.''
Ferry took a 70-68 lead in the second overtime before Montes nailed a jumper from the middle of the paint to tie things at 70-70.
Following a Ferry turnover, George canned a jumper that made the score 72-70.
A blocked shot and two turnovers later, the Purple Riders were done.
''I felt like our conditioning paid off,'' McCormick said. ''Our depth and our bench did a great job.''
Ferry exploded early to a 28-9 lead after an Ashley Ray layup with 4:54 remaining in the first half. She finished with 11 and helped limit Montes to six first-half points
The Purple Riders maintained a double-digit lead until the middle of the fourth quarter.
Leading the Ferry charge was junior Jessica Kinney, who scored 24 points and surpassed the 1,000-point barrier with a layup at the 5:08 mark of the second quarter that sparked plenty of celebrating from Ferry fans.
Kylie Stalder added 18 points for the Purple Riders.
George backed up Montes with 14 points, while Lewicki had 11 points and Kylie Howard registered 10 points and 10 boards. Jenna Stephens grabbed 11 rebounds.