COLUMBUS - The tone was set immediately by Elida, and St. Clairsville never recovered.
The Red Devils' first appearance at the Ohio High School Athletic Association Boys' Basketball State Tournament on Friday didn't go anything like they had envisioned after winning their first regional title last Saturday.
Elida's talented, athletic and lengthy Bulldogs began the game with a perfectly designed and executed alley-oop dunk to Akron-bound senior Reggie McAdams and never looked back en route to building a 15-0 lead after the first quarter and eventually posting a 61-27 victory against the Devils before a crowd of 12,266 people inside the Jerome Schottenstein Center on the campus of The Ohio State University.
''All of the credit goes to Elida because they came out and over whelmed us early,'' St. C. coach Kim Clifford said. ''I think we were a little more over whelmed by the (state tournament atmosphere) than I had thought. I hadn't seen that in our guys before.''
The Red Devils, who won 22 games in a row en route to the state tournament, simply couldn't buy a shot and the Bulldogs defense had plenty to do with that. The few times the Red Devils did get open looks they failed to cash in.
All told, St. C. drained just 9 of 47 shots from the floor, for 19 percent.
''We came in thinking we'd try to get it done with the 3,'' Clifford said. ''We've been in situations where teams got after us right from the start, but I think (Friday) had a little more affect on us and Elida deserves credit for that.''
The Red Devils' first-quarter struggles weren't helped by several unforced turnovers.
''We got here by knocking down shots and we didn't do that,'' Clifford said. ''They had a good game plan and executed it well. They did a really nice job.''
The Red Devils never got into any sort of offensive flow. Their only extended run was a 5-0 spurt in the second quarter when junior Jerrid Marhefka got a driving bucket and then buried a 3.
However, Elida stretched its lead back to the 15-point cushion at halftime. Clifford and the Red Devils spent most of the halftime speech accentuating that eventually shots were going to fall and the Red Devils could still claw back into the game.
''I told the kids that even though we didn't play well in the first half, we're only down 15. But for us that's not that bad because we can get them three at a time,'' Clifford said. ''But they got a couple of baskets and then we shot more off the break and that led to them getting out on the break and it steamrolled from there.''
Unfortunately for the Red Devils, those shots never did fall. St. C. meshed only 5 of 25 from the field in the second half.
McAdams erased any early thoughts about a possible Red Devils run to begin the half when he scored on the first two possessions .
Red Devils junior Dan Monteroso, who was named first team All-Ohio and one of five Division II state Players of the Year, faced constant double and triple teams from the Bulldogs. Monteroso was held scoreless in the first half and finished with a career-low six points.
''I didn't get into a flow and my shot wasn't going down, and I take all of that blame myself,'' Monteroso said. ''I didn't do what I had to do. I am going to get back in the gym and do my thing to get ready for next season. I'm going to work harder.''
Elida committed lock-down defender Ebin Stratton to defending Monteroso and he made him work much harder than he's done all season.
After Monteroso scored his first points, Elida promptly erupted for a 16-0 run, stretching the margin to 48-16 in the latter stages of the third quarter.
The Red Devils didn't produce a double-figure scorer. Marhefka led the way with nine points, Adam Jeffries had eight and point guard Riley Carlton was also bottled up amd limited to three points.
Elida, which held a commanding 44-25 edge on the glass, received yeoman's work from senior post Cory Royster, who quite simply, the Red Devils just couldn't check on the block. He finished with 18 points 18 rebounds.
McAdams scored in a bevy of ways en route to 17 points and also had nine rebounds. Sparkplug Mike McDonald, who was probably the quickest guard St. C. had faced all season, added nine off the bench.
Elida returns to the Schott this afternoon for a 4:30 p.m. tip against unbeaten Dayton Dunbar, which dispatched Mentor Lake Catholic in the first semifinal.