Oak Glen comeback effort falls short

NEW MANCHESTER, W.Va. — St. Clairsville came out of the locker room blazing and held a 12-point lead when they went back into it at halftime then held off a furious rally by home standing Oak Glen to win 79-66 Tuesday in an OVAC 4A semifinal.

The win advances the third-seeded Red Devils into the championship game at noon Saturday at Ohio University Extension against top-seeded Meadowbrook, which also advanced Tuesday with a 60-42 win over East Liverpool.

“We thought we could use our speed and we wanted to take it to them inside,” said Clairsville coach Ryan Clifford, whose club now is 15-5. “We also like to move the ball side to side and get the open outside shots too and we also were able to do that tonight.”

Brett Vike drained four threes while Craig Bober and Matt Busby drove down the lane and also drove the baseline repeatedly to lead the Red Devils with 21, 20 and 13 points, respectively.

While St. Clairsville built up the 12-point halftime lead, veteran Oak Glen coach, Jerry Everly, felt it was the 10-4 advantage the Red Devils had in the first three minutes of the second half that ultimately proved to be too much for his Golden Bears, the two seed, to overcome.

That early first half spurt by the Red Devils gave them their biggest lead of the game-18 points-at 53-35 with 5:06 showing on the third period clock.

“I think early on we weren’t ready for their quickness to the basket,” Everly said. “We were reaching a lot and several guys got into foul trouble pretty early. One of our best defenders, Zack Taylor, got two fouls very early and that hurt us. I thought we got settled down in the second half and handled their seed better.

“But they played real well and did what you have to do by going to the rim and hitting the outside shots when they got them. I tip my hat to them. They had a real good game.”

The Golden Bears, though, turned it on in the final five minutes of the third quarter and had the gym rocking. They outscored St. Clairsville 20-7 with senior center, Ethan Travis, scoring 11 points of his game high 27 points in the quarter. The two teams went into the fourth period with St. Clairsville clinging to a five-point lead at 60-55.

“We have five seniors and a veteran team,” said Clifford. “Plus we play a lot of the bigger schools around to get experience for games like this and the one we’ll see Saturday and in the sectionals. That experience allowed these kids to keep their poise and withstood that rally. Oak Glen is a very good team, but we kept our cool and stayed with the game plan in the fourth quarter. It’s a big win for us.”

The Red Devils quieted the crowd somewhat when they opened the final eight minutes with a mini 5-0 run on two foul shots by Busby, a three by David Lane and another driving layup by Busby.

Oak Glen got an old fashioned three from Travis, who led all scorers with 27 points, then Bober drove to the hoop for a deuce to make the score 69-58 with 4:49 left in the game.

From there, the Red Devils slowly pulled away making five of seven free throws with another triple by Vike. With the St. Clairsville speed and Oak Glen having to foul going down the stretch, the Red Devils went to the foul line 35 times and made 22 of them. The Golden Bears were 11 of 16 from the line.

Oak Glen will play East Liverpool in the consolation game Friday night but last night Everly was unsure where that game will be played.

Justin Heatherington, who also slashed to the hoop for some key goals, finished in double figures for St. Clairsville with 11 points

Travis, who is being recruited by several Division III colleges, finished with another double-double as he totaled 27 points and 17 rebounds. He swished two 3-pointers and also had a couple of blocks and a steal. Taylor, who ended up fouling out midway through the fourth quarter, added 12 points.

The Oak Glen reserves won a close one over the Red Devils, 50-45. Jacob Clark led all scorers with 16 points, while Drew Sefsick and Will Balgo each scored 14 for St. Clairsville.

S. CLAIRSVILLE: 23-18-19-19–79

OAK GLEN: 14-15-26-11–66

ST. CLAIRSVILLE SCORING: Busby 4 5-5 13, Bober 7 6-12 20, Lane 2 2-2 7, Vike 6 5-8 21, Heatherington 5 1-3 11, Harris 2 3-5 7. TOTALS: 26, 22-35: 79.

OAK GLEN SCORING: Wiley 0 0-0 0, Perez 3 2-2 8, Smith 0 3-5 3, Patterson 3 1-2 8, Gittings 3 0-0 8, Travis 11 3-5 27, Taylor 5 2-2 12. TEAM TOTALS: 25, 11-16: 66.

Three-point goals: St. Clairsville 5 (Vike 4, Lane), Oak Glen 5 (Gittings 2, Travis 2, Patterson).