The Marian Colts were coming into Wednesday's match-up against rival Panther Valley with a little bit of a chip on their shoulder.
The reason being, the Colts suffered a one-point loss to the Panthers in the PV Tip-Off Tournament in the first weekend of the season. Add the fact that North Schuylkill handed the Colts a bad 17-point loss the night before and all of a sudden their game against Panther Valley became all that more important.
The Colts more than responded hitting six three-pointers in the first two quarters and got that all important win at Panther Valley, handling the Panthers for a 53-38 non-league victory.
Marian head coach John Patton made it evident to his squad that he wasn't happy with their physical play against the Spartans and that needed to change if the Colts wanted to compete with the bigger Panther Valley squad.
"We challenged the kids to come out and play physical because we didn't do that the night before," said Patton. "We're a young team and it was critical for us to play the way we did tonight so the kids know that they can play at that level. We talked a lot about playing physical before the game and the kids really responded."
Patton's challenge worked for his team as they no doubt were the aggressor on Wednesday night, but nobody could've guessed the Colts would shoot the three the way they did against the Panthers.
In fact, the Colts hit a season-high eight threes in the contest who at times this season have had their offensive struggles, only scoring 27 points a week earlier against a less than impressive MMI club. The Colts three-point field goals alone against the Panthers almost matched their point total against the Preppers.
"Anthony Agosti and Ryan Karnish really stepped up and made some big shots for us tonight," said Patton. "Agosti is really developing into a solid point guard for us and his defensive effort is the best we have on our team. A lot of our guys answered the call tonight, which is great because we needed this win."
Karnish was the dagger man for the Colts all evening, silencing every run the Panthers threw at the Colts. After Marian jumped out to a 14-1 lead at the end of the first the Panthers closed to within seven mid-way through the second quarter. The Colts didn't let Panther Valley get any closer however, going on 12-0 run in the last three minutes of the second and never looked back from there.
"We cut into their lead a little bit there in the second, but we just couldn't convert tonight," said Panthers coach Pat Crampsie. "We just took a lot of bad shots tonight and didn't move the ball well on offense. This is just a disappointing loss for us, but we don't have the luxury of feeling sorry for ourselves. We have a rough week coming up with North Schuylkill, Shenandoah, and Pottsville so we have to get right to work and make sure a night like tonight doesn't happen again."
Marian's defense deserves some of the credit for the Panthers struggles on offense. The Colts held Panther Valley to just 11 points in the first half and played tough man-to-man defense throughout the game. The Panthers never really looked comfortable handling Marian's pressure and never recovered from the 29-11 half-time deficit.
Ryan Karnish led the Colts to the big win with a season and game-high 20 points, while Anthony Agosti and Eric Swankoski tallied eight each.
Nate Mathewson notched 11 for Panther Valley in the loss.
Whah 2-0-0-4, Kweder 0-0-0-0, Karnish 7-1-3-20, Pilla 2-0-2-5, Julian 1-0-0-2, Richards 0-4-4-4, Swankoski 3-2-2-8, Weber 0-0-0-0, Agosti 2-2-3-8, Brown 1-0-0-2, Damian 0-0-0-0. TOTALS: 18-9-14-53.
King 2-0-0-6, Szczecina 1-0-0-3, McArdle 1-4-6-7, Stano 2-0-0-5, Ogozalek 1-0-0-2, Delessio 2-0-0-4, Ferryman 0-0-0-0, Mathewson 4-3-6-11, Mitchell 0-0-2-0, Vermillion 0-0-0-0. TOTALS: 13-7-14-38.
Marian 14 15 11 15 - 53
Panther Valley 1 10 13 14 - 38
Three-pointers: M - Karnish 5, Agosti 2, Pilla 1; PV - King 2, Szczecina 1, McArdle 1, Stano 1.