Barnesville opens season with 68-61 road loss to St. Clairsville

Mike Hughes
For The Daily Jeffersonian
Barnesville's  Jeremy Hunkler (23) gets past a pair of St. Clairsville defenders during Friday night's game at St. Clairsville High School.

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — A key stretch in the second quarter ultimately decided Barnesville’s fate Friday night in St. Clairsville.

Tied with the home standing Red Devils at 12 apiece after one, St.C. opted to apply a little full court pressure to rattle the visiting Shamrocks.

It worked just long enough to gain a little cushion and with the way St. Clairsville shot the ball, the visitors never managed to make up the ground in falling 68-61.

“The moment wasn’t too big for us, but this was our first time out against anyone other than our jayvee and I think it took us a while to accept the flow of the game and adapt to the speed,” new Barnesville head coach Johnny Hines said. “The speed of the game got us early and that press allowed them to get a lead and we were never able to overcome it."

“We got stuck in that five to seven, eight points behind range. I give St. C. credit. They are a big, physical team that does a lot of different things that get you into a bad position.”

The Devils outscored Barnesville only 18-13 in the second quarter, forcing 11 first-half turnovers. But that little cushion was enough as St.C. shot 46 percent from the field and finished with less than 10 turnovers for the game.

The big key was Ryan McCort’s ability to attack the basket, either creating on his own or taking advantage of multiple picks set by forwards Will Balgo and Avery Henry.

McCort finished with a game-high 24 points on 8 of 19 shooting and a 7 of 9 clip at the line. McCort had 12 at the half and once adjustments were made to curtail the penetration, he was able to drive and kick to open teammates further out.

“We were unable to stop the middle penetration and our bigs really couldn’t help because of those two bests down there on the low post,” Hines said. “That was big for us on that end.”

Both Balgo and Henry are physical football players, standing 6-foot-4 or better. Both can move and any extra help shaded toward containing McCort resulted in a quick dump-off and an easy bucket.

Barnesville's Evan Hudson (4) gets off an off-balance shot past a St. Clairsville defender during Friday night's game at St. Clairsville High School.

Balgo backed McCort with 17 points and Henry had six and a team-high 10 rebounds.

That’s not to say it was all negative for Barnesville; far from it. Hines saw plenty that he liked.

For one, the Shamrocks shot fairly well, hitting 21 of 51 attempts for 41 percent. They also knocked down eight 3-pointers, three coming from Evan Hudson.

In addition, Barnesville displayed balance as five players finished in double figures. Hudson, along with Jeremy Hunkler, Kason Powell and Jake Edwards each finished with 11. Asa Guilenger supplied 10 off the bench. Colton Hines had seven to go with his team-high nine rebounds.

“Early on we were not getting out offense,” Coach Hines offered. Maybe nerves gut us a little bit early because we weren’t getting the looks we needed but once we settled into our game, we started getting good looks in the second half.”

Barnesville got its momentary turnover issues under wraps with only three in the second half. They hung close, twice cutting the lead to six points late in the fourth.

But St. C. made the big plays when necessary and finished 8 of 10 at the line in the final eight minutes to ice the game.

St. Clairsville won the junior varsity contest 63-39 behind 17 points from Jacob Parsons. Taison Starr led the Shamrocks with nine points while Davis Hickinbottom and Logan Dodd each added seven markers.

NEXT: Barnesville returns to action Tuesday when the Shamrocks play host to the Bellaire Big Reds.