When the week started, the Martins Ferry Lady Purple Riders found their backs to the wall for next week's OVAC Tournament.
Two games, and two victories, later, rookie head coach Lindsay Coyne is taking a red-hot basketball team into the semifinals Monday night.
After toppling St. Clairsville on Monday, the Lady Riders wrapped up the pre-tournament portion of their schedule with a solid 52-40 victory against John Marshall inside the Tolbert Gymnasium Thursday night.
"This is an excellent win," Coyne said. "We're playing really good basketball at the best time. I've never doubted the girls' efforts, but now everything's clicking on both ends of the floor."
The Lady Riders' victory avenged a loss from earlier this month to the Lady Monarchs, who are now 11-7 on the season entering the Class 5A OVAC Tournament.
"I feel really good about our chances next week," Coyne said. "Union Local is a good team, but if we continue playing like we have these past two games, I really think the sky is the limit and maybe we can put a banner on the wall."
After going back-and-forth to a 17-all reading after one, the Lady Riders seized control in the second and dug the Monarchs a hole that was far too deep to recover by the time the fourth quarter got under way.
"The second quarter really hurt us," said John Marshall head coach Mark McCormick. "We didn't play with any sense of urgency offensively and when we did, I thought we forced stuff. It really wasn't anything special Martins Ferry did, but we just didn't have an urgency and we had far too many mistakes."
The Lady Riders outscored John Marshall, 17-3 in the second period. Leading the charge was senior Kylie Stalder, who delivered one of her best games of the season. She scored nine of her 18 points in the second.
"If the Stalders are scoring, it's a wonderful day," Coyne said. "Both Kylie and Morgan have that capability. They were scorers last year. They can put the ball in the hole and it's great that they're getting the confidence now to score."
Ferry picked up right where it left off in the first half early in the third when it scored the first eight points out of the intermission to surge to a commanding 42-20 upperhand.
The Lady Monarchs finally got on the board with a goal with an Emily Winters basket at the 4:13 mark of the third. All told, JM went better than 13 minutes of game action without a field goal.
"I thought we really defended well," Coyne said. "We've just gotten back to playing 'our' defense. We just want to get after people in the halfcourt. We got our hands on things, grabbed it and kept it strong."
The Lady Monarchs could only get as close as nine in the fourth quarter. Ferry senior standout Jessica Kinney scored all six Ferry points in the final chapter. She finished with 18 and completed the double-double with 12 boards.
John Marshall was paced by talented freshman Torie Derrow, who had 16 points despite struggling from the floor. She, too, had a double-double with 10 boards. Winters added eight.
"We have to play a strong four quarters," McCormick said. "Martins Ferry is a good, solid club."
The Lady Monarchs will make the trip to Morgantown on Monday to tangle with University in the OVAC 5A semifinals.
"I like our matchup," McCormick said. "We're actually the only team in our section, in our area, that's beat them. Obviously, we have to shore some things up, but overall, I am comfortable going down there to play."
The Lady Riders were charted for 18 turnovers, which was two more than the Lady Monarchs.
No reserve game was contested.
JOHN MARSHALL (40) - Derrow 3, 9-12 16; Filben 1, 0-1 2; George 2, 0-0 5; McClelland 1, 0-0 2; Lewicki 2, 1-1 5; Watson 0, 2-4 2; Nameth 0, 0-0 0; Winters 3, 2-4 8; Totals: 12, 14-22 40. MARTINS FERRY (52) - Kinney 6, 6-10 18; K. Stalder 7, 3-4 18; Suriano 0, 0-0 0; Rose 1, 0-0 2; Oberdick 1, 1-3 3; Lee 0, 0-1 0; King 2, 0-0 4; M. Stalder 2, 0-1 5; DeLeonardis 1, 0-0 2; Totals: 20, 10-19 52.
Three-Point Goals: JM - Derrow, George. MF - K. Stalder, M. Stalder.
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