MARTINS FERRY - Whenever St. John Central and Martins Ferry get together in girls' basketball, the fans get their money's worth.
Saturday afternoon, Lindsey Coyne's Purple Riders (3-8) rallied past Bubba Kapral's Fighting Irish (4-9) by a 37-33 count in a foul-filled, overtime thriller inside the Tolbert Gymnasium.
The contest was played in memory of former Martins Ferry coach Duane "Bubba" Coleman, whose daughter, Maylah, is a freshman on the Purple Riders squad.
In their initial meeting of the season in Bellaire, Martins Ferry's Morgan Stalder nailed a shot at the buzzer to lift the Purple Riders, 45-43.
"This was big ... big. The girls really needed this win," a jubilant Coyne said. "Not only for their confidence, but for their self-esteem, as well. We've been in every single game with the exception of one."
With the injury-riddled and foul-plagued Irish holding a 31-29 advantage with time winding down in regulation, Martins Ferry freshman Sydney Bridges collected an offensive rebound and scored on the putback to tie the game with 8.2 seconds left, sending it into overtime.
In the four-minute extra period, Tyrah King, the Purple Riders' tower of power in the middle, scored the first three points and the hosts never trailed. King finished with game-highs of 20 points and 17 rebounds.
"Tyrah was a beast," Coyne said. "I hope she realizes by this game that her team needs her to play well. Whether she's having an off night or not, she can control the game just by being a presence.
"She has the ability to out-and-in like I've never seen before. If you see her coming down the lane, you're going to watch out."
After a series of free throws left the Riders with a 35-33 edge, Coleman stepped to the line in a pressure situation as the clock showed 3.3 seconds left. She calmly dropped both through the twine for a four-point bulge.
"Those two free throws were huge because we didn't need to guard them on that final possession," Coyne said. "She didn't have one of her best games, but she was playing in front of her entire family and a lot of family friends."
Martins Ferry led 13-10 after one quarter as King scored eight of her points.
St. John Central took the lead in the second quarter on the strength of sophomore Marissa Rose's 13 first-half points. They led 16-13 until Stalder meshed two free throws for Ferry's first points of the 8-minute period. A Coleman free throw and King basket gave the Purple Riders a 18-17 edge at the break.
Neither team could do much in the third quarter as a total of 11 points were scored, with the Irish recording seven of them for a 24-22 nod after 24 minutes of action.
Rose, the area's second leading scorer, fouled out on a questionable charging foul at the 6:29 mark of the final quarter. The Irish led by two, 26-24, at the time. Teammate Emily LeMasters, who had a team-best 13 rebounds, joined her on the bench a little more than three minutes later.
Rose finished with 19 points, while Jessica Alvey, who was playing hurt, added 10.
"We played well enough to win. The officials need to realize the fans come to watch the players, not them," Kapral said. "They handed me my first technical foul in eight years and they handed a technical to one of my girls, who is as nice a kid you will ever find.
"If King played against us every night, should would a USA Today All-America. This loss will stick with us for a good while. It shouldn't have happened."