St. C. Downs Cambridge
ST. CLAIRSVILLE – Having one game under your belt makes a big difference.
Case-in-point: The St. Clairsville Red Devils.
Coach Ryan Clifford’s well-schooled charges bounced back from an opening 67-61 road setback to Union Local to secure a solid 69-59 win over a fine Cambridge squad Friday night on John Jenkins Court.
“We showed a lot improvement from Night One to Night Two. The jitters we had in our opener weren’t there tonight,” the fourth-year Red Devil boss said. “We are not where we need to be yet, but tonight was a nice step in that direction.”
All-Ohioan Ryan McCort was a major reason the Red Devils bounced back in strong fashion.
The senior dandy poured in a game-high 28 points, 14 coming in each half.
Ohio State football commit Avery Henry also came up big for Clifford’s crew. The 6-7, 300-pounder netted 18 points to go with 10 rebounds.
“What can you say about Ryan? He again showed why he is an all-state basketball player,” Clifford said. “Avery gives us that nice post presence at both ends of the floor. He was very active tonight.”
Senior dynamo Colin Oberdick was also a key Red Devil catalyst, delivering 14 points and boundless hustle.
St. Clairsville found itself on the short end of a 20-17 lighting at the end of the opening quarter. Caleb Bond and Jonah Stanberry each produced six points in the frame for the Bobcats while McCort and Oberdick countered with seven and five markers, respectively.
St. Clairsville took control on the strength of an impressive second quarter. McCort and Henry evenly divided 14 points, enabling the hosts to forge a 38-31 halftime edge, a lead they would never relinquish. The Red Devils’ pressure defense forced the Guernsey Countians into seven turnovers in the quarter.
The Bobcats clawed back to within 48-45 in the waning moments of the third panel.
McCort, however, slowed the Blue surge by draining a trey just prior to the quarter horn for a 51-45 advantage.
McCort opened the fourth period just as he closed the third, burying a trey.
Henry followed with two successive buckets as the St. Clairsville bulge grew to 10 at 55-45.
Cambridge would get no closer than 62-54 the balance of the night before an Oberdick free throw and four more freebies from McCort held the Bobcats at bay.
“We did a poor job on the defensive boards and our foul shooting needs to get better,” Clifford said. “We were a little tight, being our home opener. These kids have played a lot of games but not in front of crowds like this.
“We are not up to game speed yet. But by January we should be there,” added the personable mentor. “I am excited on where this team can go.”
Bond led the 1-1 Bobcats with 20 points. Stanberry was next with 14 counters.
“We are getting better dealing with adversity. Against Bellaire we didn’t handle adversity very well. Tonight we were much better handling the hostile environment,” Cambridge head coach Kyle Pertuset said. “We had our opportunities tonight but didn’t take advantage of them.
The kids need to start believing in themselves. We know what they are capable of,” he continued. “St. Clairsville is a really good team. They have a lot of weapons.”
St. Clairsville committed 13 turnovers while Cambridge turned it over 15 times.
The Red Devils return to action Tuesday in the All-American Town, facing Bellaire. The Bobcats visit Union Local the same evening.