Kim Clifford has been coaching long enough that he doesn't get too nervous during the course of games.
It's certainly helped his nerves the last four seasons to have Dan Monteroso on his team.
With a huge crowd looking on, the talented senior, bound for Purdue on a football scholarship, came up big once again, saddling the Red Devils to a hard-earned 58-56 overtime victory, spoiling a valiant effort and performance from invading Cambridge Saturday night in Belmont County.
"Unbelievable game," Clifford said moments after addressing his team. "We were very business-like in the second half, hit big shots and Dan simply took over."
The Red Devils, who didn't lead in the game until Riley Carlton opened the overtime with a triple, found themselves down by as many as 12 early in the fourth quarter.
"The reason we played these kinds of non-league games is to get a different look because teams don't know us as well," Clifford said. "We need to be able to turn it up every night. Against a team that's really good and they had us down by 15 at a point. I know it's cliche, but I am really proud of the team right now."
The Red Devils, who had a chance to win the game in regulation, saw a runner from just inside the arc clang off the rim, sending it to overtime.
After Carlton's trey early in the OT, the Bobcats Ben Standiford meshed two at the line and sophomore guard Jordan Watson got a driving bucket with less than 30 seconds to go.
St. Clairsville waited patiently, trailing by a point. Monteroso found Jerrid Marhefka, who was fouled. He connected on one-of-two in the double bonus, tying the game at 56.
The scramble for the loose ball deflected out of bounds off a Red Devils' player, giving the Bobcats the ball with 3.4 to play.
"I was thinking we were going to turn them over," Clifford laughed when asked about the final seconds. "It's not like I predicted that or anything, but you get to the point where you're so confident with your team. I just didn't want us to foul. Dan got it and made a play like he's done so many times for us."
Cambridge, which was forced to play the final 10 or so minutes without its best player, Kyle Ritz, because of fouls, went for a baseball pass and Monteroso, who was playing centerfield brought in the can of corn for a turnover. He promptly went the length of the floor and softly finger rolled in the game winner, setting off a wild celebration.
"This was a great game with a tournament atmosphere," said Cambridge head coach Mike Andrews. "I am sure a lot of people thought we'd come over here and lose by 10 or 15 points. We gave ourselves a chance, but a great player made a shot at the end. Hopefully, we'll see them down the road because they're probably going to be in the regional."
Monteroso, who was held primarily in check in the first half, scored 23 of his game-high 31 in the second half. Carlton didn't score in the first half and finished with 14 points.
"I can't think of a guy who didn't contribute to this win," Clifford said. "You can find a play where each kid made a winning play and we needed them all."
Cambridge was led by Standiford's 17. Ritz, who is the son of former MLB pitcher Kevin Ritz, went for 16 points and nine boards. Senior Devon Francis added 10.
The Devils were charted for just eight turnovers, while their defense, which was sparked by senior Adam Jeffries, forced 23 Bobcats' turnovers.
St. Clairsville, which normally shoots the lights out in the friendly confines, simply couldn't buy a bucket early. The Red Devils, who trailed 12-2 after one and 26-15 at half, scored two finished the first half 1-of-12 from deep and 4-of-22 from the floor.
"We couldn't make a shot, so we had to find another way to get ourselves going," Clifford said. "Our defense turned it up a lot more in the second half. We got them in foul trouble and we had Dan."
Cambridge managed a split with a victory in the reserve game, 50-41. Varsity scoring:
CAMBRIDGE (56) - Tingle 1, 1-1 3; Watson 2, 2-4 6; Standiford 7, 2-2 17; Francis 4, 2-4 10; Ritz 6, 4-4 16; Endly 1, 2-2 4; Clark 0, 0-0 0; Brown 0, 0-0 0; Totals: 21, 13-17 56. ST. CLAIRSVILLE (58) - Marhefka 2, 1-2 5; Jeffries 2, 0-2 5; Giffin 0, 2-2 2; Monteroso 9, 12-13 31; Carlton 5, 2-2 14; Campbell 0, 1-2 1; Totals: 18, 18-23 58.
Three-Point Goals: C - Standiford. St. C. - Jeffries, Monteroso.
Staskey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org