After allowing Wilkes-Barre Meyers to score 65 points over the weekend, Marian head coach John Patton needed his defense to tighten up its grip.
Last night, the Colts did just that by forcing Mahanoy Area into submission with a suffocating 40-29 Schuylkill League Division 3 victory.
Just ten days after posting a 50-46 double-overtime victory against the Golden Bears in the Championship of the Panther Valley Tip-Off Tournament, Marian held Mahanoy Area (3-2, 1-1) to single-digits in all four quarters on 27-percent shooting from the floor (10-for-37).
"Getting Mahanoy Area twice this early in the season is tough," stated Patton. "We know they can flat out shoot the ball, so we knew we had to get out on the perimeter and make them take some contested jumpers. The kids stepped up and I was very proud of the defensive effort tonight.
Similar to their first meeting (in which they trailed 15-7), the Colts fell behind early as Mahanoy Area jumped out to an 11-7 lead ten minutes into the contest. However, Marian scored the next nine points (including six from Eric Baker) to take a 16-11 lead, and eventually went into halftime with a two-point cushion (18-16).
"I told the kids at halftime that we had the exact same amount of points (18) as in the first meeting, but instead of being down two at the half, we were up by two," added Patton. "On nights like tonight when your offense is struggling, and Mahanoy Area certainly played a big part in that, you need to rely on your defense to get the job done."
Coming out of the break, Marian got two quick buckets by center Dominick Richards in the first 45 seconds of the third quarter to increase its lead to 22-17.
"We thought we could get the ball inside and we scripted a play for Dominick to start the second half," chimed Patton. "He did a good job of holding his position and that allowed us to open things up a bit."
Chris Barletta, who scored 27 points in their previous meeting, was held to just five points through the first three quarters. After Mahanoy Area trimmed the lead to 27-25 with six minutes remaining, Barletta scored seven of Marian's final 13 points to put the Bears to sleep.
"You can't force things against them because they play good man principle defense," concluded Patton. "If you're not patient, they'll eat you up, but I thought our guys did a nice job of playing composed and taking what the defense dictated."
Barletta and Ryan Gimbi each had 12 points apiece to lead the Colts, while Francis Senglar paced Mahanoy Area with 11 points.
Marian (5-1, 2-0) shot 13-for-32 from the floor. Both teams hauled down 27 rebounds, while each committed 15 turnovers in the contest.
In the JV game, Marian was a 47-31 winner behind a 15-point effort from Ryan Karnish.
Senglar 4-3-5-11, Goodman 2-1-2-5, Oertner 1-0-0-3, Gaval 2-0-0-5, Wagner 0-0-0-0, Baker 0-0-0-0, Cavenas 0-0-0-0, Kimmel 1-3-4-5. TOTALS: 10-7-11-29.
Keer 0-0-0-0, Stawick 0-0-0-0, Barletta 4-4-8-12, Pilla 0-2-2-2, Gimbi 3-6-7-12, Baker 2-2-3-6, Dom. Richards 3-0-2-6, Agosti 1-0-0-2. TOTALS: 13-14-22-40.
Mahanoy Area 9 7 7 6 - 29
Marian 7 11 9 13 - 40
Three-Pointers: Mahanoy Area - Oertner 1, Gaval 1; Marian - None.