CAMBRIDGE - St. Clairsville didn't get off to a good start Tuesday night in its Division III girls' sectional basketball tournament contest against West Muskingum inside the Gene Ford Gymnasium at Cambridge High School.
The seventh-seeded Red Devils (12-11) made their first field goal of the game, but missed their next four shots while turning the ball over five times on their first 10 possessions, dropping a 53-31 decision to the No. 4 seed Tornadoes.
"If somebody had told me this was going to be the outcome, I probably would have laughed in their face," second-year St. Clairsville head coach Alicia Freeman said. "I would've never guessed we would play like this. I thought we would give them a better game.
"Our girls played hard," she continued. "I can't fault their effort and hustle. It's tough when you lose to end your season."
While the Red Devils were struggling from the floor and having a hard time keeping a hold of the basketball, West Muskingum (12-10) was clicking on all cylinders as it raced to a 14-8 lead after the first eight minutes.
Neither team could find its scoring touch in the second panel as the Tornadoes gained a 9-6 edge to take a 23-14 lead into the lockerroom.
West Muskingum led 31-20 before going on a 7-0 blitz to end the half holding a 38-20 advantage. Junior guard Ashima Herd tallied seven of her 13 points in the period.
The Tornadoes pulled away in the final quarter by meshing 9 of 10 free throws. They were 15 of 18 for the game.
St. Clairsville finished an ice-cold 11-for-46 from the field and could only cash in 8 of 15 charity tosses.
"We just couldn't get the ball to fall," Freeman noted. "I'll say it again. When our girls aren't scoring, our overall game isn't at its best, and that says nothing about our hustle. Things don't fall into place for us.
"I would never ever complain about my team's hustle and desire," she continued.
"They work really hard and we will continue to do that over the summer in preparation for next season."
Alexis St. Clair led the Red Devils with a dozen points. Lauren Figura added six, as did Ashten Cenkus in a reserve role.
The Tornadoes were paced by 6-3 senior Dakota McKenzie with a game-high 16 counters. Ali Hazen chipped in 12.
St. Clairsville, despite being short on height, held a 30-27 edge off the glass as Figura landed five. Alicia Avila also pulled down five after coming off the bench. McKenzie had a game-best seven.
The Red Devils were guilty of 20 turnovers, four more than the Tornadoes.
West Muskingum will return to Cambridge Saturday for a 1 p.m. tip against either Monroe Central or Union Local.