MARTINS FERRY - Learning to win can be a difficult task at times for teams.
The Bellaire Big Reds are taking the steps required.
For the second straight outing, Bellaire found itself in a tight game down the stretch. And for the second straight time, it found a way to get it done.
The latest came Monday evening inside the Tolbert Gymnasium. Coach Marci Quirk's club (3-1) posted a 52-49 victory against the rival Purple Riders.
"A win is a win, but I am not really happy with how we played down the stretch," Quirk said. "Honestly, I looked at the scoreboard thinking we were up by a lot at one point and it was like a six-point game. I thought our press was outstanding in the third quarter, but we didn't capitalize on the chances we gave ourselves."
The Big Reds had built a 12-point cushion at 41-21 after senior Cari Crozier scored early in the fourth quarter.
However, the Purple Riders, who hadn't played since opening the season with a victory against Edison, climbed back into the game as they used strong defense and made Bellaire pay for its missed opportunities.
"This was probably one of the ugliest games ever in terms of turnovers and foul shots, but, with that being said, we only lost by three," Ferry coach Lindsay Coyne said. "Our intensity and fight-back attitude in the fourth quarter gave me some hope for games down the road. The girls showed me something by not giving up, and I am very proud of them for that."
The Purple Riders (1-1) got within six at 44-38 and 46-40, but each time the Big Reds managed to answer. Kierstyn Kidder, who scored a game-high 18 points, got free under the bucket for an easy layup and sophomore Nina Crook answered with a conventional three-point play, making it 49-40.
Still, the Big Reds just couldn't shake Ferry.
An Aubrey Ryan goal made it a 52-43 score with a little more than a minute to play. However, talented freshman Malyah Coleman drained a 3-pointer with 57 seconds to go.
Bellaire, which missed its final nine foul shots of the game, continued to leave the door open. Martins Ferry cashed just 1 of 2 at the line on a trip and then misfired on two good looks from behind the arc.
Tyrah King, who finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds, scored in transition, but the clock had just 0.9 seconds showing when Ferry was able to foul.
"We've been known in the past to not be able to hold onto leads, so even though we blew a bigger lead, at least we hung on to win," Quirk said. "We've stressed that we have to be able to make foul shots. It's basically all concentration."
Kidder's production, which included four bonus baskets, was complemented by senior Cari Crozier, who went for 15. Ryan added six points and a team-high eight rebounds.
Ferry, meanwhile, was led by Coleman again. She scored 16. Senior Morgan Stalder added eight points. Sydney Bridges went for eight points and 11 rebounds.
The Purple Riders were charted for 32 turnovers.
"We're very young and this was only our second game, so we're going to have games like this," Coyne said. "It's very early and veteran teams are probably making turnovers early on, too. It wasn't pretty and we didn't get things going (offensively), but we'll learn from a game like this and we'll know what we have to do."
All told, Ferry held a 31-27 edge on the boards. Bellaire was charted for 24 turnovers.