When Marian and Panther Valley faced off on opening night, the Colts needed an offensive rally in the second half to secure a six-point win.
Last night, the two rivals got together for round two; however, this time, it was a defensive stand in the second quarter that propelled Marian to a 58-47 victory.
In a first quarter which saw the lead switch hands six times, the Panthers (which shot 6-for-10 from the floor in the opening stanza) got a three-pointer from Ethan Vermillion with eight seconds remining to take a 17-16 lead after one quarter.
However, it proved to be the last lead Panther Valley (2-5) would see for the remainder of the game.
"Our defense really struggled early on with giving up 17 points in the first quarter," stated Marian head coach John Patton. "At the end of the first quarter and even at halftime, all we talked about was playing defense. The shots will come, and we got a lot of them tonight in a lot of different ways, but we knew if we played better defense, we'd give ourselves a chance to turn the game around.
Not only did Marian (6-1) tighten things up, they limited the Panthers to just five points in the second quarter (on 1-of-7 shooting). With an eight-point run (fueled by the stellar play of Damian Richards off the bench), the Colts outscored the Panthers 13-5 (including an 8-0 run) to take a 29-22 lead into the break. Panther Valley's only field goal in the quarter was a three-pointer by Luke Stano.
One of the big defensive keys for Marian was shutting down Panther Valley's Jake Szczecina, who entered the game averaging 17.60 points per game, including a TIMES NEWS-best 18 three-pointers. The Colts, who held Szczecina to a previous season-low of 12 points in their first contest, held the Panther Valley junior sharpshooter to just four points last night (on 1-of-6 shooting).
"He's a great player and that's no secret," added Patton. "If you want to be successful against Panther Valley, you have to contain him. We put four or five different guys on him tonight to try to prevent him from beating us."
Marian held the seven point lead going in the fourth quarter, but each time Panther Valley tried to reestablish momentum, the Colts came up with a big bucket. In fact, the Colts made it impossible for Panther Valley to seize control as they shot a remarkable 7-for-7 over the final eight minutes of the game.
"It seemed like they were making every shot, and I guess they really did make every shot," stated Panther Valley coach Pat Crampsie when told of the Colts impressive shooting percentage. "Marian's a good team and when they needed to make plays, they made them.
"Even with a loss, I'm much happier leaving the gym tonight then I was last night (a 56-49 loss to Northwestern). We needed to focus on improving as a basketball team, and tonight, I thought the effort and execution was much better. The intensity and the motion was where it needed to be, but unfortunately, Marian just made a few more plays than we did tonight."
Ryan Karnish led Marian with 16 points, while Alden Whah added another double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds.
For Panther Valley, who has two more three-pointers (54) than two-pointers (52) this season, Luke Stano led the way with 15 points.
Marian outrebounded the Panthers 38-21, while both teams committed 14 turnovers.
In the JV game, the Panthers won 46-37 behind 16 points from Jake Kusko.
Szczecina 1-2-3-4, Kusko 0-0-0-0, Levitt 2-0-0-4, Stano 5-2-2-15, Romanchik 4-2-8-10, Kerschner 1-0-0-3, Ferryman 4-0-0-8, Taras 0-0-0-0, Vermillion 1-0-0-3. TOTALS: 18-6-13-47.
Whah 7-0-2-14, Kweder 1-0-2-3, Karnish 6-2-2-16, Legath 0-0-0-0, Richards 4-3-5-11, Swankoski 1-2-5-4, Damian 0-0-0-0, A. Agosti 3-4-4-10. TOTALS: 22-11-20-58.
Panther Valley 17 5 9 16 - 47
Marian 16 13 9 20 - 58
Three-Pointers: Panther Valley - Stano 3, Kerschner 1, Vermillion 1; Marian - Karnish 2, Kweder 1.