Ferry Holds Off Barnesville

MARTINS FERRY — Live to play another day.

Such is the case for Martins Ferry after surviving a solid challenge from Barnesville in an Ohio Division III sectional opener Tuesday night. The No. 9-seeded Purple Riders used big fourth quarters from DeAndre Pugh and Donovan Shrodes to hold off the No. 11-seeded Shamrocks, 60-56.

The win was the ninth in 23 starts for Derek Edwards’ Purple Riders. They advance to take on top-seeded Union Local on Friday at Morristown.

Barnesville bowed out at 6-17 for first-year coach Matt Johnson. The Shamrocks, like the hosts, did not start a senior.

“Barnesville probably played its best game of the year. They gave us all we could handle,” Edwards said. “Coach Johnson should be commended for having his team so well prepared. We had a much easier time with them in the regular season.

“We got it done at the foul line. We didn’t shoot as well as we should have at the line but we still did enough to win. Tournament basketball is a different animal. It is all about surviving and advancing.”

Pugh, a 6-foot-5 wide-body junior, sat out most of the first half in foul trouble. He made up for lost time in the fourth quarter, tallying 14 of his team-high 19 points.

Shrodes, a sweet-shooting junior, was solid in support with 18 points, eight coming in the fourth. He applied the clincher with two free throws with 4.9 second remaining.

Freshman Logan Smith added 10 points for Ferry while sophomore Dasyn Hores netted eight.

“Our kids played hard. We had a chance at the end,” Johnson said. “We just didn’t have an answer for Pugh. His size was a problem.

“We got to the point where we were just hoping they missed foul shots. We also hurt ourselves at the foul line. But I cannot fault our effort. Our kids did play hard.”

Talented Luke Powell closed out a sparkling sophomore campaign with a game-high 22 points for the Shamrocks, including four 3-pointers. Aaron Marovich delivered 12 points before fouling our early in the fourth quarter while Payne Johnson contributed nine points on a trio of 3s.

The contest was knotted 22-22 at halftime and 35-35 after three. Ferry appeared to have the game well in hand after Pugh scored with 2:30 remaining, pushing the edge to 51-43.

Johnson’s young and scrappy troops, however, didn’t go easy, staying within striking distance down the stretch. Powell buried a 3 with 33.1 seconds remaining to bring the Shamrocks to within 58-56.

Ferry subsequently turned the ball over with 22.2 seconds remaining. Johnson called timeout to design a final play. The shot went awry with Shrodes grabbing the rebound. He was quickly fouled and buried both free throws to ice the decision.

“Having DeAndre go out early on really changed the complexion of the game. His size was a problem for them,” Edwards said. “DeAndre really came up big for us in the fourth as did Donovan. Give Barnesville credit, they found a way to stay in the game.

“I give our team credit for staying in it when they were making a ton of 3s. But a tournament win is big for this young team. It is another step in our building process.”

Ferry committed 14 turnovers compared to 10 for Barnesville.

“As a whole I would say I am a little disappointed about the season. I thought we could have won a few more games. But we lost several close games,” Johnson said. “When we won three straight games midseason I thought we were on our way, but we didn’t win another game.

“We are a young team and we’ve got a lot of work to do. But we will get back at it soon, both in the gym and in the weight room.”