CAMBRIDGE - St. Clairsville saw its season come to a screeching half at the hands of West Muskingum in 2013. The Red Devils were able to exact some revenge Wednesday night.
Despite 27 turnovers and coughing up a 14-point lead in the second half, the Red Devils managed to find a way to keep their season alive. St. Clairsville got a foul shot from sophomore Anna DeFilippo late in the fourth quarter and then held on for a 52-51 victory inside the Gene Ford Gymnasium at Cambridge High School in an Ohio Division III girls' sectional contest.
"This is a huge win for us," St. C. coach Alicia Freeman said. "West Muskingum is a very good team that plays in a very good league. This is just a big win for us. Our girls played well, didn't panic (late) and stayed focused."
The Red Devils, who return to Cambridge on Tuesday to face the winner of tonight's Barnesville-Ridgewood game, had no answer for a sticky West Muskingum pressure defense, but the Tornadoes, who advanced to the district title game a season ago, were unable to take advantage thanks to a rough shooting night.
"West Muskingum did a really good job of pressuring the ball and we didn't handle it well, so we have to go back and work on that," Freeman said. "We know teams will pressure us as we move down the road, so we have to be ready for it."
The Tornadoes misfired on 43 of their 63 shot attempts, including their first eight to begin the game and their first 11 to start the third quarter.
That was the opening the Red Devils needed. They shot out to a 9-0 lead and eventually led 18-8 after one and maintained a 31-23 upperhand at halftime.
"We told the girls to just relax and shoot the ball," Freeman said. "We did that early in the game very well and it really got us going."
During the third quarter, the Red Devils lead swelled to 14 on three different occassions at 38-24, 40-26 and 42-28, but they could never deliver the total knock-out punch despite West Muskingum senior standout Amesha Herd sitting on the bench much of the third with four fouls.
As the Devils continued to struggle against the press, the Tornadoes began to chip away. West Muskingum closed the third with a 6-0 run and then scored the first four of the fourth before St. C. stopped its bleeding on a floater by Brigee Mick, who had connected on four 3-pointers in the first half.
A Lauren Figura bucket and two Alexis St. Clair free throws pushed the St. C. lead back to nine at 48-39. The Tornadoes proceeded to score the next nine points to tie the game at 48-48 with 2:16 to play.
"Again, we knew West Muskingum had the potential to come back on us," Freeman said. "One of my coaches always says, 'if we walk out with one more point than (the other team), that's good.' That's exactly what happened."
The game wasn't tied long. DeFilippo blew by a West Muskingum defender for a layup, putting St. C. back on top. St. Clair cashed 1 of 2 at the line, making it 51-48.
West Muskingum made 1 of 2 itself and then watched St. Clairsville misfire on a pair from the line. Herd, who scored a game-high 20 points, got to the rim for a layup to tie the game with 21 seconds to go.
DeFilippo was fouled as she worked the ball up the floor and cashed 1 of 2. West Muskingum misfired on two chances and then had a desperation heave after the Devils missed two more free throws.
"I kept looking at the clock and thinking, 'please wind down, please wind down," Freeman said with a laugh. "We have to hit foul shots down the stretch."
The Red Devils were led by Mick's 14 points. St. Clair and Carlee Gillespie each had 10, while Figura finished with nine and DeFilippo added seven.