CADIZ — There might not be a boys’ basketball team any hotter than St. Clairsville right now.
After putting up 96 points in their semifinal upset of No. 2 East Liverpool earlier in the week, the third-seeded Red Devils continued that trend Saturday afternoon with a 78-57 blitzing of top-seeded Harrison Central in the OVAC WVU Medicine Class 4A championship game on the Huskies’ home court.
“This is a heckuva atmosphere and venue. It’s a shame they are moving it away next year,” St. Clairsville head coach Ryan Clifford said. “We were really happy to come out here and beat them on their floor.
“We liked our matchups. We thought we could beat them off the dribble and we did,” he added.
The title is the third for St. Clairsville since the OVAC went to the current format. They went back-to-back in 2012 and 2013, but have lost seven title tilts.
“We were 4-4 at one time and now we’ve won 10 of our last 11,” Clifford said while holding back his emotions. “This is only our third championship in school history and my first. We’ve been here a million times and haven’t brought home the hardware in 11 years. It feels good.
With the two-headed scoring machine of Tyson Pastor and Cole Thoburn doing what they do, St. Clairsville pulled away in the latter stages of the third quarter in avenging a loss from earlier in the season.
“We had a little bit of sickness the first time we played them, but we didn’t use that as an excuse. They played really well that night,” Clifford said.
Pastor, who netted a game-high 28 point, sparked the surge.
“They are really good,” Clifford said of his two scoring machines, “but they are only that good because of the little things the other kids do. We are a much harder team to guard than we were in December.”
Griffin Straub continued to give the Red Devils a lift off the bench. He scored 13 points and grabbed five rebounds. Brady Schafer added nine points and half-a-dozen rebounds.
“Brady is getting double figures on a nightly basis and Griffin has been a big boost off the bench,” Clifford praised. “I like where we are right now.”
Deadlocked at 33, the Red Devils (14-5) went on a 10-0 run to end the first half and were never threatened.
“We kind of let them go wherever they wanted to. We wanted to limit their touches in the paint, but we were unable to do that with the way they drove to the basket,” Harrison Central head coach Aaron Foldi said.
“We didn’t rotate correctly on defense at times, and they took advantage of it.
“I’m confident that my kids can bounce back. We’ve got good leadership and they are already talking about next week.”
Thoburn, who earned the John Howell Memorial MVP Award, knocked down a trio of treys in the third quarter on his way to 11 of his 24 points, as St. Clairsville built a 65-49 advantage after three quarters.
Mykel Quito led a trio of Huskies in double figures with 19. Brady Elliott had 12 and Hayden Cassidy 11. Daniel Ody chipped in nine.
Pastor also pulled down six rebounds as the Red Devils had 22 rebounds. Quito snagged seven of the Huskies’ 34.
The Red Devils were guilty of just four turnovers, which was 10 less than Harrison Central.
St. Clairsville hosts John Marshall on Tuesday. Harrison Central welcomes Barnesville the same night.