Martins Ferry hangs loss on Harrison Central in Pittis’ debut

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Martins Ferry 49, Harrison C. 36
Martins Ferry opened up the boy’s basketball season Tuesday with a
49-36 triumph of visiting Harrison Central. The loss spoiled the
head coaching debut of the Huskies’ Adam Pittis. Trailing 31-27 heading into the fourth quarter, the Huskies were forced
into five consecutive turnovers to start the final frame. The
Cadiz-based school didn’t get a shot off until the 4:30-mark of the
fourth quarter.


Martins Ferry opened up the boy’s basketball season Tuesday with a 49-36 triumph of visiting Harrison Central by using a stingy defense and some key fourth quarter free-throw shooting. The loss spoiled the head coaching debut of the Huskies’ Adam Pittis, who was decked out in a full black suit.

Trailing 31-27 heading into the fourth quarter, the Huskies were forced into five consecutive turnovers to start the final frame. The Cadiz-based school didn’t get a shot off until the 4:30-mark of the fourth stanza, and were guilty of eight giveaways in the final period.

“We are inexperienced as a team, and those turnovers were attributed to our entire team,” Pittis stated. “We have had the same point guard for the past four years, and he is no longer here. We will gain more experience at every position as the season progresses. We only have two kids (Ty Kenny and Ryan Davenport) with any varsity experience.”

Veteran Rider boss Jeff Sabatino was impressed with the young Husky coach.

“He does a great job for such a young guy,” Sabatino relayed. “They are scrappy, play extremely hard, know what they want to do, and are very well coached. They just lack some offensive fire power, but that will come with experience.”

The Riders got out of the gate quickly with a 7-0 advantage, and ended the first chapter with a 12-5 lead. Senior shooting guard Tony Sabatino scored five points in the quarter by nailing a corner triple and pull-up jumper.

In the second, the Huskies drew even with 3:30 seconds to go in the half on a Ty Kenny bucket. Pittis’ bunch outscored the Purple and White 12-9 in the second behind junior Jordan Barker’s seven markers to trail 21-17 at the intermission.

In the third, the Purple started to pound the ball inside to 6-foot-6 sophomore Jordan Burress and 6-foot-5 senior Josh Bable. The former scored three inside buckets courtesy of some nifty assists from senior point guard Derek Edwards. Burress finished with seven lightings in the stanza, while Bable netted a bucket.

“I thought our post players played very well,” the Rider boss explained. “Not only did they play well on offense, all of them contributed with some excellent post defense. I thought Bable did an excellent job off the bench of denying his man and help and recovery defense, which is stuff he is just learning to do.”

Harrison got four points in the third from senior C.J. Byers to help play making it a 31-27 game heading into the final period.

The aforementioned turnovers played a huge role in Ferry’s four quarter advantage. The Riders turned up the defensive heat and the rest was history.

Burres made two more baskets, junior Clay Francis had a hoop and a pair of free-throws and Edwards had a bucket and made 6-of-8 foul shots down the stretch. Sabatino’s crew was 10-of-13 from the charity stripe in the final chapter.

“I think we have to be happy when Tony (Sabatino) and Derek (Edwards) don’t get into double figures, and we end up winning by double figures,” Sabatino stated. “Those two played well on defense, but didn’t particulary have good offensive games.”

Sabatino may be talking about the combine 3-of-18 shooting from his two mainstay guards.

For Pittis, there is work to be done but bright spots were clear.

“Don’t sell this team short,” Pittis said. “This group won quite a few jayvee games last season, but our offense does need to get better. I’ll go 0-20 if we are playing our best basketball come tournament time and make a run.”

Burres led the Riders with 15 points and 10 rebounds on 6-of-10 shooting. Francis added nine markers and six boards, while the scrappy Edwards finished with nine points, five caroms, four assists and a steal. Bable contributed six points, three boards and a like amount of blocks.

The Purple and White finished 15-of-40 from the floor, but were just 2-of-10 from distance.

Barker led the Harrison attack with 13 points on 5-of-9 shooting. Byers finished with six points and four boards. Kenny added six points and a team-leading eight rebounds.

The Huskies were just 14-of-46 from the floor including 3-of-8 from down town.

Ferry had the upper hand at the foul-line by going 17-of-25 compared to Harrison’s 5-of-8.

The visitors were guilty of 17 turnovers (8 in the final quarter), while the home squad turned it over 14 times. The Riders held a 29-21 advantage on the boards.

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