Steubenville Fends Off St. Clairsville, 72-65
Sawyer scores 23 points for Big Red
STEUBENVILLE — After leading by a dozen points at halftime, Mike Haney’s group had to work hard late in Wednesday’s game to head into the holiday break with a win.
Visiting St. Clairsville cut the deficit to five numerous times in the fourth quarter and down to four in the final minute, but it never got any closer. Big Red hung on for a 72-65 victory inside the Crimson Center in the back end of a boys-girls doubleheader.
“We just kept battling and kept fighting,” Haney said. “They kept cutting the lead down, but our guys were resilient and kept fighting.
“Our guys made some key foul shots. We missed a few early and they cut the lead down, but our guys really came through when it counted.”
Leading the way for Steubenville (3-2) was Zion Sawyer with a game-high 23 points, 15 of which came in the second half, and six boards.
“He played well,” Haney said. “They went to some man, and he attacked the bucket. He went to the hole and finished his shots.”
Likewise, Brenton Jones had 12 of his 16 in the opening half, helping Big Red open up a 36-24 halftime lead on the Red Devils (3-3). He also added nine rebounds.
“He ended up starting for us, he’s usually one of the first guys off the bench,” Haney said, noting his team was without Cade Kernahan. “He stepped in and did a really good job.
“We had some guys come off the bench and play well, too. Everybody contributed. It was a team effort.”
Despite St. Clairsville having a notable size advantage, Big Red out-rebounded the Devils, 37-23.
“It’s tough. We’re not very big, but our guys battled,” Haney said. “We had some young guys in there that were smaller than their guys, but they kept battling and kept working.”
Big Red had a 21-7 advantage on the offensive glass.
“They out-quicked us to the offensive glass, especially in the first half,” St. Clairsville coach Ryan Clifford said. “It was just a matter of being physical at the defensive end. When we did, we got more stops.”
For Clifford, the early hole was an all-too-familiar situation.
“I don’t know if we’ve got to change our warm up or what, but to start the season, we’ve pretty much been down in every game,” he said. “The first three we were able to come back and win, but the last couple we haven’t been able to. Against good teams, you can’t dig yourself a hole – and we did.
“We had a much better second half. I was much happier with out toughness in the second half. We got pushed around a little in the first half. It was a much better effort in the second half — the hill was just too high.”
The Red Devils had four of the starting five reach double figures, led by Ryan McCort’s 20 points. Colin Oberdick finished with team highs in rebounds (eight) and assists (five) to go with 10 points.
PLAYING ON SHORT NOTICE
Clifford was appreciative that Haney agreed to play on short notice with the ever changing schedule — and hinted they could do it again.
“I really appreciate the fact that we picked this game up on a day’s notice and they wanted to play,” he said. “I told our kids the schedule is going to get considerably harder because it’s only the good teams that are playing and saying yes. I appreciate Mike having us and we’ll see them again. We talked before the game, and we’ll play five times if we have to and no one else will play.”