For the Martins Ferry girls, it was just what the doctor ordered.
It was just eight days ago that the Lady Riders played flat and were defeated at St. Clairsville.
After that game and a short break for Christmas, Lindsay Coyne summoned her team for a "short pow wow."
MARTINS FERRY’S Dionna Lee (33) drives to the basket against Steubenville Friday night inside Tolbert Gymnasium. The Purple Riders knocked off the previously unbeaten Big Red.
Evidently, her message came across loud and clear.
Playing with great energy and passion, the Lady Riders bounced back impressively and knocked Steubenville from the ranks of the unbeaten Friday night, 61-59, in the second semifinal in the MPR Industry and United Dairy Martins Ferry Holiday Basketball Tournament at the Tolbert Gymnasium.
"This was a total team effort," Coyne said. "After that St. Clairsville game, we sat down and got everything out in terms of the things we need to work on. And I mean that both in terms of players and coaches. We got back to doing the little things and this is a really nice win."
The Lady Riders won't have much time to enjoy it, however. They'll return to the gym today for a 4 p.m. tip against Division I school Pickerington Central, which got by Shadyside in the opening game of the doubleheader.
"We'll be ready," Coyne said. "One thing I really like about this team is how they never back down from anyone."
Steubenville, meanwhile, is excited to get back to the gym since it suffered its first loss of the campaign and is now 8-9. It'll meet Shadyside at 2 p.m.
"This was a good game and we needed something like this," said Steubenville head coach Phil Casinelli. "No one likes to lose. In the sport of basketball, it's tough to win them all and we didn't expect that. Everyone wants to win, but you have to realistic. It's a long journey. We weren't too high at 8-0 and we won't get too low at 8-1."
It was a back-and-forth game much of the evening. Steubenville led, 15-12, after one and the Lady Riders posted a 16-13 second quarter to tie the game at 28 at the intermission.
Steubenville led by four after three chapters at 44-40, but Ferry senior Jessica Kinney decided to saddle up her teammates like an all-Ohioan can.
Despite battling foul trouble much of the evening, Kinney caught fire in the fourth. She scored 13 of her team-high 28 points in the final stanza.
"I thought we had a nice momentum going in the first half," Casinelli said. "Credit Martins Ferry because they went on a run. They killed us on the boards and got a lot of loose balls underneath. I think that was one of the differences in the game."
She recorded an inside bucket to give the Lady Riders their first lead since it was 31-30 early in the third quarter with just over three minutes to play.
The lead was short-lived, though.
Steubenville's Taylor Young canned a triple from the left wing, putting Big Red back on top by one.
The Lady Riders took the lead for good on a Kinney bucket with 2:02 to play. After senior Addie Suriano knocked in a pair of foul shots, Kinney got free again in the post for an easy deuce, making it 57-52.
"I thought we did a poor job defensively of knocking the cutters down," Casinelli said. "We had some breakdowns on defensive execution."
As you'd expect from an undefeated club, Steubenville wouldn't go quietly. Talented junior point guard Emiley Masloski tried to match Kinney bucket-for-bucket. She buried a triple to get Steubenville back within two.
After the teams traded foul shots, Ferry found itself up 59-56 and senior Shaina Oberdick got a key bucket in transition, but Masloski hit an off-balance triple with 4.8 seconds showing.
Ferry was quickly fouled on the in-bound, but missed both shots. However, Big Reds' desperation heave from just behind the half-court stripe was well off the mark, sending the Lady Riders to the tourney title game.
"This is an awesome feeling," Coyne said. "Everyone who went on the floor today gave 110 percent. We're a scrappy bunch that has the heart and hustle."
Kinney complemented her scoring with a solid 12 rebounds to complete the double-double.
"Jess wanted it tonight," Coyne said. "She's primetime. A lot of other players got her the ball where she could make plays. The thing I am most pleased with is how well we executed the offense."
Kinney's scoring was aided by senior Kylie Stalder's eight and Meghan Rose's seven.
Masloski, who displayed the entire arsenal, buried four triples, shot well at the line and slashed to the goal. She was joined in double figures by Mytia Baker, who finished with 13.
Ferry held a 39-30 edge on the glass. The Lady Riders had 13 turnovers, which was one more than Big Red.
No reserve game was contested.
STEUBENVILLE (59) - E. Masloski 8, 8-9 28; H. Masloski 1, 1-2 4; Young 2, 1-2 7; Wilson 1, 0-2 2; Baker 5, 3-5 13; Bodo 0, 0-0 0; Taylor 1, 0-0 3; Totals: 18, 13-20 59. MARTINS FERRY (61) - K. Stalder 3, 2-5 8; M. Stalder 0, 0-0 0; Suriano 1, 2-2 4; Rose 3, 1-1 7; DeLeonardis 0, 0-0 0; Kinney 12, 4-9 28; Oberdick 1, 3-4 5; Lee 1, 1-2 3; King 2, 2-5 6; Totals: 23, 15-28 61.
Three-Point Goals: S - Masloski (4), H. Masloski, Young (2), Taylor. MF - None.