MARTINS FERRY - Harrison Central head coach Nick Yourkovich had a message for his team Monday night and they heard it loud and clear.
Trailing 15-14 at halftime against Martins Ferry in Tolbert Gymnasium,' Yourkovich spoke to his team, basically about their intensity, or lack thereof, during the opening 16 minutes.
''There was no intensity,'' he said. ''I don't know if not having a jayvee game threw us off. But there's no excuse. We need to know that once the ball goes up we need to play.''
T-L Photo/RICK THORP
Martins Ferry’s Sydney Bridges (33) looks to go up for a shot as she’s defended by Harrison Central’s D.J. Keesey (30) during Monday night’s game.
The Huskies came out of the locker room a different team, outscoring the Purple Riders 24-6 in the third quarter en route to a 49-39 Buckeye 8 victory.
''Thank goodness we came out and played well in the third because we played three quarters of pretty bad basketball,'' Yourkovich said. ''We played a pretty solid eight minutes there in the third. We turned up the defensive intensity. We got in the right spots and that led to a couple of easy scores.''
Katie Ellzy scored 10 of her game-high 23 points during the third, including a bucket to start the period.
Kara Dunfee then converted back-to-back three-point plays to make the score 22-15. Jesse Ledger followed moments later with the first of two treys in the quarter that gave the Huskies (3-2) a 25-15 advantage with 6:06 left in the period.
''Kara had two big and ones that got us going a little bit and we got the ball to Katie and she started finishing underneath,'' Yourkovich said. ''That always opens things up for us.
''Our offense runs through Katie, everyone knows that. When other people start making shots, they have to start going out of their (defensive) gameplan a little bit.
''We like to play inside-out and that started to work for us in that third quarter.''
Sydney Bridges, who paced the Purple Riders with 15 points, dropped in a layup to make the score 28-21. But, from there, Harrison Central went on a 10-0 run to end the period.
Ellzy had five points during the spurt, including a three-point play that came off an out-of-bounds play with 24.5 seconds remaining.
The Huskies' lead ballooned to as much as 17 at 44-27 in the fourth quarter when Ellzy hit a pair of free throws.
Undaunted, Bridges and Tyrah King, who finished with 13 points, combined to bring Martins Ferry (1-3) to within nine at 46-37 with less than two minutes remaining.
''We had chances to cut it down; missed a bunny there a free throw here,'' Martins Ferry head coach Lindsay Coyne said. ''But, at the end of the day, those shots are OK because they are giving you 110 percent on both ends of the court.''
Coyne said she was extremely pleased with her team's effort, despite the loss.
''They came out with that fire in the fourth quarter that I'd been looking for the past two games,'' she said. ''They gave everything the whole game, but in that fourth quarter, they turned up the tempo and really impressed me.
''If they realize if they play with this much intensity and this much heart, watch out mideason because we're going to get it together if they play that way.''
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