Union Local Hangs on to Oust Martins Ferry

MORRISTOWN– It may be cliche, but postseason basketball is all about surviving and advancing to play another game.

That was exactly the case Friday night as Union Local withstood a gallant effort from Martins Ferry in a Division III sectional tournament co-final. However, in the end the Jets had a little too much fuel for the visiting Purple Riders in a 59-54 decision before a raucous crowd inside ‘The Hangar’ at Union Local High School.

With the cherished victory, their third this season over Martins Ferry, Union Local (20-3) moves on to play Garaway on Tuesday at a site to be determined by the Ohio High School Athletic Association this weekend. The Pirates eliminated Bellaire, 81-53, Friday night in Sugarcreek.

“Wow! What a game,” Union Local coach Zach Delman said after watching his team cut down the nets after defending their sectional title. “Credit to (Martins) Ferry. They came out with a lot of energy. They played very well. They didn’t play like the team we beat on opening night.

“(Martins Ferry head coach) Derek (Edwards) has done a great job of bringing those kids along all season,” Delman praised. “They played hard (Friday).”

That energy and an effective inside game led the Purple Riders (9-15) to a 29-27 halftime lead, something that not many people expected.

“I told our kids at the half that we sure didn’t look like a 19-win team in the first half,” Delman said. “We played very undisciplined and not like us. We didn’t look confident, but slowly and surely after a couple of shots went in things started to turn. We just needed to see the ball go through the net a few times.

“It was a touchy game. A lot of whistles and is was hard to get into a flow for us offensively.”

While Martins Ferry’s big men were having a field day on the inside, the visitors rallied from a 16-11 deficit after one quarter to lead at the break. Junior DeAndre Pugh, a 6-foot-5 space-eater, and 6-2 senior RayQuan Prayear combined for 13 of their team’s 17 second-quarter points, with Prayear getting half-a-dozen off the bench.

Pugh’s bucket just ahead of the halftime buzzer gave the Purple Riders the lead after a trio of deadlocks.

“I know it counts as a loss, but it’s not a loss in my book. Three-and-a-half months ago, we lost 54-25 to them here. These kids have really bought into what we were trying to teach them,” Edwards said. “We put forth a tremendous effort, but we just fell a little bit short.”

Martins Ferry could have had a larger lead if not for the outstanding effort from Union Local’s Cal Kildow, who ignited for 16 of his game-high 30 points in the first half.

Even though Kildow led all scorers in the contest, it was a defensive play he made in the waning seconds of the third quarter that sparked the Jets in the final stanza.

Martins Ferry had just pulled to within 39-37 with 43 seconds remaining. Union Local’s Luke Menges scored on the inside with 11.1 showing and Kildow, reading the inbounders’ eyes, stepped in front of the pass for an uncontested layup and a 43-37 advantage as the horn sounded.

The Jets built the margin to 10, 51-41, with just over five minutes left to play when Elijah Baker knocked down his second straight bonus goal.

The Purple Riders weren’t about to roll over and play dead as they reeled off nine consecutive points to make it 51-50 with 93 ticks remaining. Sophomore Dasyn Hores led the way with four points, while Pugh’s conventional three-point play made it 51-48. Hores connected on two more free throws before Ty Kildow ended Union Local’s scoring drought with a pair of charity tosses for a 54-50 reading.

Martins Ferry’s next possession resulted in a tie-ball as the possession arrow favored the hosts.

Cal Kildow proceeded to tickle the twine on 5 of 6 free throws in the final minute to preserve the win.

Ohio Division III

Sectional Co-Final

Garaway 81, Bellaire 53

SUGARCREEK–Chase Yoho netted 23 points and Jacob Marthaler added 11 but it wasn’t enough as Bellaire’s season came to a close in a road loss to Garaway in the sectional final.

Division IV

River 45, Tusky Central 40

HANNIBAL–Lukas Isaly led River to a Division IV sectional championship with 32 of the Pilots’ 45 points in a win over visiting Tusky Central.

Malvern 68, Toronto 46

MALVERN–Malvern outscored visiting Toronto 41-22 in the second half as the Red Knights were eliminated.

Nate Karaffa paced Toronto with 14 points, while Trillion West accounted for 11 and Nick Sninchak added 10.

Hiland 69, Shadyside 43

BERLIN–Kelly Hendershot scored 15 points and Josh Zandron netted 13 but Shadyside fell to host Hiland in sectional final action.