Ferry girls find positives in lopsided loss

The inaugural MPR Industry/United Dairy Martins Ferry girls’ basketball tournament didn’t go as everyone had expected.

In fact, the tournament isn’t officially over yet despite Pickerington Central taking the top hardware back to Fairfield County late Saturday night after defeating the host Purple Riders.

The consolation game between Shadyside and Steubenville has to be postponed due to a scheduling conflict. Big Red played Harrison Central Saturday, forcing the game to be re-scheduled for Monday, Jan. 14 at Shadyside. JV action will begin at 6 p.m.

That was the second time a postponement arose during the 4-team event, as Mother Nature interrupted the tournament on its second day (Dec. 29).

First-year Martins Ferry head coach Lindsay Coyne, despite a lop-sided loss, found positives to build upon for the remainder of the season, which continues tonight when Buckeye 8 rival Bellaire visits the Tolbert Gymnasium.

“Pickerington Central is a Division I program, and they played like it tonight,” Coyne assessed. “They shot the ball very well, everyone of them, and they were very aggressive.

“Playing teams like this will only help us down the stretch and into the postseason,” she added.

Martins Ferry senior Jessica Kinney was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player. She tallied 48 points in the two games, including 28 in the semifinal upset of previously undefeated Steubenville, 61-59. The Purple Riders’ Morgan Stalder was also named to the all-tourney squad.


In addition to Allison Luther, whose father graduated from Cadiz, there was another player on the Pickerington Central team whose father is a 1978 graduate of Buckeye North.

Dennis “Boo Boo” Johnson’s (Smithfield native) daughter Phyllicia is a senior guard on the Pickerington Central team. She scored 19 points in the title game, and was the best player on the court.

Her dad was selected as one of the all-time Ohio Valley’s top 50 all-around athletes by The Intelligencer a few years back. Her mother, Patience Brown Johnson, is also a grad of Buckeye North in 1977. Dennis went on to play football at Kent State University. Phyllicia is a 3-year starter for Pickerington Central. She is getting offers from several Division I schools to continue her basketball career at the next level.

She is also a very good student carrying better than a 3.0 GPA. Her grandmother, Marge Johnson, still resides in Cadiz.

Luther had eight points and eight rebounds.


Shadyside exacted a little revenge last week when the Tigers knocked off Wheeling Park inside the ‘Palace on the Hill’ in Wheeling.

The Patriots had posted a hard-earned victory over Tina Yates’ team in December, but with this win, the Orange-and-Black seem to be getting back on track after an uncharacteristic three-game losing streak.

The Tigers are sitting in the fourth spot in the latest OVAC standings, which can be seen on Page B3 of today’s paper. They travel to Sarahsville tonight to meet Shenandoah. They host River Thursday and Parkersburg South Saturday.


Bridgeport moved to 10-0 with a serious beat-down of an outmanned Bishop Donahue squad last week.

The Bulldogs unleashed their attack early on as an 18-0 run to start the game set the tempo.

With junior Nicole Smolenak running the show, head coach Rob Zitzelsberger’s team is a thing of beauty when all cylinders are clicking.

Caitlyn Kroll continues to impress in all facets of the game, especially for a freshman, while junior Maclaine Murad is a force, both on the inside and the perimeter. Role players Kaitlyn Benda and Brittany Higgenbotham – both seniors – are both contributors, as are Brianna Massey and Keri Renzler off the bench.

Bridgeport entertains Steubenville Central tonight and travels to Barnesville Thursday


University (5-A), Steubenville (4-A), Fort Frye (3-A), Bridgeport (2-A) and St. John Central (1-A) lead their respective divisions as the OVAC standings are released today.

The lone change at the top was in the smallest classification where the Lady Irish slipped ahead of Conotton Valley.


A big game in the 3-A standings will unfold tonight inside the R.L. Potts Gymnasium in Hannibal when River entertains Fort Frye in a Pioneer Valley Conference tussle.

The Cadets are 10-1 with a 51.09 average, while the Pilots are right behind at 10-2 and 46.17. Fort Frye won the first time around.

This is just the first ‘big’ game for River as they visit Shadyside Thursday and host St. Clairsville Saturday.

St. John Central travels to Toronto Wednesday before hosting East Richland Christian Thursday.

North can be reached at knorth@timesleaderonline.com