Despite what the final box score might look like, some wins just aren't pretty.
In last night's Schuylkill League Division III opener against Nativity, Marian earned a huge 48-40 victory over the Golden Girls; however, they also earned the criticism of head coach Paul Brutto.
With high expectations heading into this season and a proverbial target on their backs, the Fillies just never seemed to get in a groove despite holding the lead from start to finish.
"We're happy to get the win, but we're definitely not pleased with the way we played tonight," stated Brutto. "A win over Nativity is obviously huge because it's a rivalry game and it gives us a leg up in the Division, but we have to get better.
"We got off to a great start and then they went into a zone defense, which got us off our game a bit. Nativity is a good team though. They don't have much depth, but their starting five is as good as anyone's in the League."
Marian scored the first seven points of the game and raced out to a 16-3 lead in the closing seconds of the first quarter. The Golden Girls converted just one of their first 11 shots from the floor, as the Fillies' relentless full court pressure forced six Nativity turnovers.
Marian's lead swelled to 22-7 when Lindsay Nemeth buried a three-pointer at the 6:17 mark of the second quarter. However, a 6-0 run by Nativity closed the deficit back to single-digits."
"When Nativity went into that 1-3-1 zone defense, we struggled. We couldn't get the ball inside, which led to turnovers or missed shots," added Brutto. "I figured they might go zone to counter our quickness across the board, but we just didn't execute very well against it tonight and that's a credit to Nativity."
Following Nemeth's trey midway through the second quarter, Marian went on a dry spell, as the Fillies connected on just one of their next 12 shots over a nine-minute span.
Slowly but surely, the Golden Girls began chipping away at the lead and with 4:46 remaining in the game, Nativity closed the deficit to just four points (35-31).
After missing its first five shots of the fourth quarter, Marian's Savanna Krusinsky gave the Fillies the spark they needed with a huge rebound and putback to increase the lead back to six points.
On its next possession, Gabby Green drained her second three-pointer of the game and Krusinsky followed with two clutch free throws, and just like that, Marian was back up by 11 points (42-31).
"That was a key moment in the game," added Brutto. "We had our backs to the wall and Nativity had all the momentum.
"Fortunately, Gab and Savanna hit some big shots there to give us some breathing room."
Krusinsky ended the night with 14 points and seven rebounds to pace Marian (3-0, 1-0), while Green and Abby Whildin added 12 and 10 points respectively.
For Nativity (1-2, 0-1), Allison Warren scored 14 points, all coming in the second half.
Marian shot 14-for-42 from the floor, while Nativity converted 16 of its 40 attempts. The Fillies also outrebounded the Golden Girls 32-27, while forcing 21 turnovers. Marian turned it over 18 times.
"I'm proud of our girls for hanging tough tonight," lauded Brutto. "We had a lead, they came back, and then we were able to hold them off there at the end. We're trying to be a tougher team this year and tonight I thought we showed a lot of mental toughness.
"When you're playing well, the game comes easy, but when you're struggling, you need kids that can battle through that."
White 0-0-1-0, Andrefski 3-2-5-8, Field 5-0-2-10, Souchak 0-0-0-0, Warren 4-5-5-14, Strausser 0-0-0-0, Luckenbill 4-0-0-8. TOTALS: 16-7-13-40.
Green 3-4-10-12, Whildin 2-6-10-10, A. Fannick 1-0-0-3, Whitecavage 1-4-4-6, Sofranko 0-0-0-0, Nemeth 1-0-0-3, Baranko 0-0-0-0, Krusinsky 6-2-5-14, Holman 0-0-0-0. TOTALS: 14-16-29-48.
Nativity 5 8 12 15 - 40
Marian 16 8 8 16 - 48
Three-Pointers: Nativity - Warren 1; Marian - Green 2, A. Fannick 1, Nemeth 1.