Union Local at St. Clairsville and Edison at Indian Creek headline a big weekend of Buckeye 8 hoops.
Kurt Stubbs III takes a look at the games.
Union Local @ St. Clairsville
Coach Kim Clifford’s Red Devils come into tonight’s key Buckeye 8 contest with a perfect (8-0) record in conference play. St. Clairsville is (9-2) overall with its two setbacks coming to a very good Weir (W.Va.) outfit. The Jets, on the other hand, come into this evening’s action reeling. Union Local has lost three straight overall and a like amount in conference play. Coach Ben Porter’s unit hasn’t tasted victory since a 69-62 triumph of rival Barnesville on January 4. The Red and White are currently in fifth place at (4-5) in conference play and (7-6) in all.
What is more, the Red Devils and Jets played less than a week ago in Morristown with the Belmont County seat taking that game by the count of 82-57. The game was construed by the absence of Union Local’s second leading scorer junior Joby Barr (18 ppg.) who has missed the last two games with an injured back. The lengthy 6-foot-3 junior is probable for tonight’s encounter.
Last Saturday, the Saints jumped out to a 20-9 lead after one quarter and never looked back. This came just one night after losing a heart breaker to Weir (69-66) on the home boards. Senior Michael Bigelow led the way last Saturday with 18 markers, while seniors Anthony Vincent and Derrik Baugh evenly divided 26 points and senior sub Delioun Jackson added 12 lightings.
Union Local received 30 points from multi-talented junior Jordan Barbina including 12 in the second chapter. Barbina is the Buckeye 8’s leading scorer at 21 points per game. His top support was emerging senior Zach Azallion (10.1 ppg.) with 13 markers. Azallion scored 26 points including six treys in Tuesday night’s 78-67 defeat to Shadyside (10-2). Union Local’s 6-foot-4 junior Kyle Blackman was hampered with foul trouble for the majority of the game and finished with just two points.
Union Local will need to try and find a way defensively to slow down St. Clairsville’s offensive firepower. If the Jets are unable to limit the turnovers it could be another long night. The Red Devils will continue to pressure for 32 minutes with great team depth, which means Union Local will need its top players on the floor and not on the bench in foul trouble. One thing is certain the Morristown-based Jets won’t be able to equal the Red Devils bench play, therefore it’s going to take huge nights from Barbina, Barr, Blackman, and Azallion. If not, another L is looming. Blackman is the key for UL; if he can stay in the game and produce as he does some nights the game should be competitive. Also, the Red and White need to do a better job on the boards but with the return of Barr improvement should be a given. For the Red Devils, just keep doing what you are doing. The Saints play as hard or harder than any team in the area, which makes up for a lot of mistakes throughout the course of a game. The Red Devils are extremely athletic and score a lot of points off turnovers. Coach Clifford has done some fantastic jobs in the past, and this one ranks among top after losing nine seniors to graduation.
St. Clairsville is outstanding at home with a record of 37-7 over the past four and a half years. Not to mention UL has not defeated St. Clairsville since 2003 (0-9).
Edison @ Indian Creek
Edison is the feel good story of the year in the Buckeye 8. The Wildcats, who are (7-2) in conference and (10-2) overall, were in dire need of something good to happen for a school slammed with dreadful press. Indian Creek has been a bit up and down, but remains above .500 in conference (6-5) and overall (7-6).
Edison hasn’t lost a game since a December 18 loss at home to St. Clairsville (70-57). The only other loss for the Wildcats was Martins Ferry way back on November 30 of last year, but head coach Todd English’s crew avenged that setback just a little over a week ago. Meanwhile, the Wildcats and Redskins played back on December 22 with Edison coming out on top (53-48).
The Redskins, on the flip side, are a dangerous basketball team. The Skins are going to be in almost every game on their schedule. The opponent will have to play 32 minutes to beat a Joe Dunlevy coached squad. For instance, Creek lost to Division I Upper Arlington (63-49) on the road in its opener which was a three-point game heading into the fourth period, but the other five losses have all been by eight points or less. Dunlevy’s contingent has suffered two three-point defeats, two five-point setbacks, and the one eight-point loss to Ferry. The Red and Gold are (4-2) at home this season with losses coming to St. Clairsville (63-60) and Martins Ferry (57-54).
The Wildcats throughout the season have got production from a number of players, but the “big three” do most of the damage in the scoring column. Seniors Bryson Anderson, Cory Wickham, and Loren Mynes all take their turn leading this team. Anderson is a versatile player with the ability to score inside and out, while Wickham and Mynes have above average quickness at the guard position. The latter two are both streaky shooters, who can fill it up in a hurry. Juniors Cale McCoy and T.J. Mack have also been solid.
Indian Creek counters with a balanced attack led by seniors Mike Smith and Jim Wood. The former is arguably the best slasher in the league, while Wood has showed an ever improving inside game. Top support has come from juniors Luke Viltro and Daniel Dunlevy along with seniors R.J. Roberts and Jonathan Figel.
This may be the best match up on the card. Look for Edison to come out a bit flat after spending a mass of energy in the comeback win over Bellaire this past Tuesday. The Redskins were down 16 points at the intermission only to come from behind to steal a one-point victory. The Redskins, on the other hand, should be well rested having not played since last Friday. The advantage certainly goes to Creek playing at home, but Edison has been defying the odds all season. When Mynes and Wickham play well Edison is very hard to beat, which makes it key for Creek’s defense to try and limit those two. Look for Wood to shine tonight and put a lot of pressure on the Wildcat defense on the interior. Look for Edison to play a good bit of zone to take away Smith’s driving lanes, which means IC will have to make some outside shots. Creek will find a way to win this game as they have suffered too many close losses.
The Rest of the Weekend Slate:
Friday January 18, 2008
Martins Ferry (8-4) @ Harrison Central (3-11)
-The Riders won the first meeting (49-36) in the opener for both teams behind 6-foot-6 sophomore Jordan Burress’ 15 points and 10 rebounds. The Huskies are coming off their third win of the year with a repeat win over Buckeye Local. Ferry’s game with St. Clairsville was postponed on Tuesday due to inclement weather.
Buckeye Local (2-10) @ Oak Glen (W.Va.) (2-9)
-The Panthers haven’t won a game since a victory over Bellaire on December 14. The Panthers will now have to deal with Oak Glen sophomore sensation Clay Owings and his 20.1 points per game average.
Saturday January 19, 2008
Buckeye Local @ St. Clairsville
Bellaire (4-9) @ Wheeling Park (7-3)
Buckeye 8 Standings
St.Clairsville (8-0) (9-2)
Edison (7-2) (10-2)
Martins Ferry (7-3) (8-4)
Indian Creek (6-5) (7-6)
Union Local (4-5) (7-6)
Bellaire (4-8) (4-9)
Harrison Cent. (2-8) (3-11)
Buck. Local (2-9) (2-10)