EAST LIVERPOOL - The East Liverpool Potters outscored the St. Clairsville Red Devils in each quarter on their way to claiming third place honors in the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference Class 4A championship bracket Friday night at Potter Fieldhouse.
The 61-47 triumph improves the Potters' record to 14-6, while St. Clairsville drops to 10-11 on the season.
Kade Reynolds led a balanced scoring attack for East Liverpool with 20 points, followed by Hayden Cunningham 17 and Austin Emmerling 14. Cunningham dished out five assists. Owen Crawford and Emmerling led the way on the boards with seven rebounds each. Reynolds was credited with three steals.
East Liverpool connected on 24 of of 53 shots (45 percent) from the floor.
Patrick Buchanan came off the bench to top St Clairsville with 16. Michael Scarnecchia netted 13 before fouling out 4:34 remaining in the contest. Brendan Ferns contributed 10.
"To me, D.J. Austin is the unsung hero for us tonight," said East Liverpool coach Nate Conley. "D.J. held their leading scorer, Jared Derosa, to just two field goals, one of which was very late in the game. D.J. did an outstanding job of shutting him down."
The Potters never trailed on their way to a 20-14 lead after the first eight minutes. Emmerling controlled the offensive interior, garnering eight-first quarter points. With Austin, Reynolds and Zack English providing ball-hawking defense on the perimeter and Cunningham, Crawford and Emmerling working hard on the inside, the Red Devils had troubles initially developing a consistency on offense for much of the first frame.
"We wanted to come out and cause some turnovers as St. Clairsville is a very good halfcourt team on offense," Conley said. "We applied pressure early and it got them out of their comfort zone."
St. Clairsville went on 7-0 run in the first 2:30 of the second quarter to claim a 21-20 advantage, eventually increasing the difference to 24-22. This would be St. Clairsville's last lead of the game as East Liverpool quickly answered with 14-5 scoring spurt of their own to take a 34-26 halftime lead. Reynolds led the 14-point barrage with seven, followed by Cunningham five and Crawford two.
"St. Clairsville is a good basketball team," said the Potter coach. "They are a young team team this year, but they have great tradition."
Both teams struggled offensively in the third quarter, as both teams' defenses were exerting their muscle. The Potters increased their lead to 10, 44-34 as Reynolds netted five, Crawford and Cunningham two each and Austin one.
"Owen Crawford started to go to the hoop in the third quarter," said Conley. "Over the course of the game, he had some great drives. Getting seven points and seven rebounds from Owen is what we need. Plus, he plays such good defense."
East Liverpool increased the lead to as much 16 during the fourth quarter as Cunningham and Emmerling each tallied six during the final eight minutes. English had assists on three consecutive scoring plays, pushing the score to 61-45 in favor of the home team.
"Kade has been really coming on strong the past few weeks," said Conley. "He is getting himself into a nice rhythm which he transfers over to the rest of the team. I really liked the job Hayden did of handling their pressure and hitting the open man. Austin Emmerling continued to play hot, which is what he has done the past two weeks."
The Potters return to action Monday when they travel to John Marshall for a fourth try at playing a game which has been a victim of the winter weather on three previous occasions.
This was reportedly St. Clairsville's first-ever visit to Potter Fieldhouse for a boys varsity basketball game.
East Liverpool won the JV game 41-37. Dallas Brewer led the Potters with 10, followed by Zack Adkins and Brent Waggle with eight each. Landon Thompson led St. Clairsville with 12.
The Red Devils' next game will be a sectional game on February 25 versus West Lafayette Ridgewood.
ST. CLAIRSVILLE: 14-12-8-13-47
EAST LIVERPOOL: 20-14-10-17-61
ST. CLAIRSVILLE SCORING: Jared Derosa 2-0-6, J.C. Coleman 0-0-0, Joel Griffin 0-0-0, Brendan Ferns 4-2-10, Dylar Panepucci 1-0-2, Brandon Bosworth 0-0-0, Patrick Buchanan 6-2-16, Logan McCourt 0-0-0, Michael Scarnecchia 5-0-13 .TEAM TOTALS: 18, 4-12: 47.
EAST LIVERPOOL SCORING: Owen Crawford 3-1-7, Isaac Davidson 0-0-0, D.J. Austin 1-1-3, Hayden Cunningham 4-8-17, John Rickerd 0-0-0, Zack English 0-0-0, Kade Reynolds 7-1-20, Austin Emmerling 7-0-14, Aaron Long 0-0-0, Joey Bickerton 0-0-0, Zack Adkins 0-0-0. TEAM TOTALS: 24, 11-18: 61.
Three-point goals: St. Clairsville 7 (Scarnecchia 3, Derosa 2, Buchanan 2), East Liverpool 2 (Cunningham, Reynolds).