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Martins Ferry Takes Down Harrison Central

Photo by Kim North Martins Ferry’s Ruben Hilson controls the ball while Harrison Central’s Cruz Capers defends during Friday night’s game.

MARTINS FERRY — Defense wins games. That’s a well-known fact. It ignited Martins Ferry’s offense Friday night.

With the defense forcing turnovers at an alarming rate early inside Tolbert Gymnasium, the Purple Riders jumped out to a 19-5 lead after one quarter and were never challenged in a 60-49 triumph.

“Everything revolves around our defense and we take major pride in it. It may not always be perfect and we have moments, but we’re never going to not play hard,” Martins Ferry coach Derek Edwards said.

“We always seem to give a lot of energy on that floor. Our defense energized our offense and man did we attack. That’s when we’re at our best.”

Junior guard Ruben Hilson and sophomore Jaizen Miles spearheaded the first quarter scoring spree. Hilson recorded steal-after-steal that resulted in a lot of easy baskets as the hosts led 4-3 before going on a 13-0 run to take command. Miles ended with seven points in the quarter, while Hilson had six and a couple of steals.

The Huskies (6-5) went nearly five minutes without scoring. It didn’t get much better in the second quarter for Harrison Central as it managed just six points for a total of 11 at the half.

“Effort. It was all effort. They played harder than us. They wanted it more than us,” Harrison Central coach Justin Clifford said of the game’s start.

“The ball isn’t going to go in when you give that type of effort. Kudos to Ferry for coming out and playing the way they did.

“When you play in slow motion and you’re looking for the next guy to make a play, it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter what you draw up. It doesn’t matter if you don’t give effort. If we give the effort that we gave in the first half (Friday), we’re not beating anybody. They played twice as hard as we did, so they deserved to win.”

Hilson tallied six more points in the second quarter to outscore Harrison Central by himself in the first half.

Clifford’s squad scored 11 of the first 15 points of the third quarter to cut the deficit to 33-22, but they couldn’t get over the hump.

Miles netted nine of his team-high 20 in the third quarter, including a pair of free throws and a buzzer-beating bucket to make it 42-29 at the end of three after the Huskies had closed to within nine, 38-29, on a Cruz Capers basket.

Hilson added six of his 18 points in the fourth quarter and the Purple Riders connected on 12 free throws to withstand an 18-point outburst from Harrison Central’s Kobe Mitchell, who finished with 29 points after having four at the break.

“That’s basketball. You’re not always going to play your best game,” Edwards said in reference to bouncing back from a loss at Union Local on Tuesday in which the Purple Riders didn’t play to their potential. “Good teams find ways to stay in games, and we’re doing a pretty good job of that. Now that doesn’t mean you’re going to win all of your games, but good teams find ways to allow them to win games. We did a good job of that (Friday).”

Martins Ferry played without its leading scorer in Logan Smith. He was on the bench in street clothes with what was deemed a hamstring injury.

“We were short-handed. We have injuries but that’s why it’s a team sport. We preach competitive excellence every day,” Edwards said.

“That’s coming to work every day in practice and being ready for when your number is called. We had some guys come off the bench (Friday) and they were ready when their number was called. That’s a major credit to them for coming to practice every day and being focused and engaged and playing really hard.”

Hores finished with a double-double as he scored 15 points and pulled down 10 rebounds.

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