MARTINS FERRY - Martins Ferry had all sorts of reasons to be motivated for Monday's game against St. Clairsville.
Whether it was a chance to avenge its loss from earlier in the season, an opportunity to secure its berth in next week's OVAC Tournament or the fact that it was Senior Night, rookie coach Lindsay Coyne didn't need to say much to her team before the game.
Playing with a purpose from the outset, the Riders cruised past the Devils 64-39 inside the Tolbert Gymnasium.
"We took care of business," Coyne said. "My seniors did what you'd expect a group to do on senior night ... come out and kick butt!"
The victory clinches a spot within the top four for the Riders in the Class 4A tournament next week. The official pairings will be announced today by the OVAC.
"The girls knew the OVAC Tournament was on the line and that's been one of our goals since day one," Coyne said. "I'll probably sleep a little better knowing we're in the OVAC Tournament. These seniors deserve the chance to compete and hopefully we can send them out with a banner."
On the other side, the Red Devils' hopes of sneaking into the 4A field were dashed and a big reason for that was a bone-chilling 18 percent shooting clip and a 15-0 run from the latter stages of the first and into the first three minutes of the second when the Riders turned a 10-9 lead into a 25-9 lead.
"You have to come ready to play and we didn't," St. C. coach Alicia Freeman said. "(Ferry) pushed us and we didn't push back. We backed off. We just didn't play well."
The Riders led by a 36-16 count at the half and were never seriously threatened in the second half as Ferry's cushion swelled to as many as 29.
"For some odd reason, when we don't score, we can't do anything and that has to change," Freeman said.
The Red Devils, who have a regular season game against Bridgeport set for Wednesday and a make-up game with Buckeye Local still to be played, will await their opponents in the consolation round, which will also be determined today.
"It's disappointing because we were so close," Freeman said. "It was right there at our fingertips. We knew could beat Ferry, but the bottom line is they showed up to play and we didn't."
Martins Ferry was extremely balanced. Junior Morgan Stalder came off the bench to score a game-high 15 points. Senior Meghan Rose added 13 and Jessica Kinney, the area's leading scorer, finished with 12.
Senior Shaina Oberdick played really well on the interior with eight points and seven boards.
"This team isn't just one person and I've been saying that all season," Coyne said. "Yes, Jess (Kinney) is a very special player and I am glad she's a Purple Rider, but her teammates have the capability every night to score whenever they went."
St. Clairsville was led by Lauren Figura's eight points and Brigee Mick's seven.