Despite its 64-33 loss to Pius X in last night's PIAA District 11 Class A quarterfinal game, Marian executed its game plan successfully.
"Our goal was to shut down Marbury who scored 31 against us the last time we played them and control their other guard, Holmes as well," said Marian coach John Patton. "We also wanted to limit their chances for second and third shots."
For their first objective, the Colts were successful throughout the game, limiting Eric Marbury, who came in averaging nearly 18 points per game to just 10 with their triangle and two zone defense. They also held Anthony Holmes to 11 points on the night. And for nearly the first 10 minutes of the game, the undersized Colts boxed out the Royals' big men underneath on missed jumpers to stay within eight points of the lead early in the second quarter.
"The problem for us was they are so deep and we had to leave their other players open for shots and they made a lot of them," said Patton
In the first quarter, the Colts, whom were playing without their injured leading scorer Anthony Agosti, stayed with the Royals' high-powered offense. Ethan Kuczynski's put back tied the game at a basket apiece. After Marbury hit a jumper, Dominic Mussoline's bucket with 20 seconds left in the first left Marian just eight points behind.
In the second quarter, the young Colts' defense kept the uptempo Royals in a half court offense. Following Nick Wesner's jump shot, which was two of only three points the Colts would score in the second eight minutes, Pius, led by Brody Plante's eight points, went on an 11-1 tear to break the game open. Plante's layup from a crowd-pleasing, spinning in the paint feed from Marbury, increased the Royals lead to 18 at the break with a 29-11 score.
"We had a couple of stretches where we had opportunities to score, but we just couldn't get the ball to the hoop," said Patton.
After the first quarter, Marian shot only 6-27 from the field while Pius shot 19-44, a solid 43 percent.
Mike Vercusky had a solid third quarter for the Colts. Working down low, he scored six points in heavy traffic. Marian stayed within two points for the quarter of the Royals, whom are now 18-3 on the season and own a 13 game winning streak.
"I was somewhat concerned about our motivation for this game," said Pius coach A.J. Depue. "Except for the second quarter, I think we kept our focus pretty well. Even though their zone limited Marbury, it opened up good looks at the basket for our other players."
Pius drilled five three-pointers in the fourth quarter, with three of them coming from John Goffredo in a span of two minutes. Vercusky added three more points to lead the Colts, scoring with 13 points for the game.
The Royals finished with three players in double figures, paced by Goffredo's 23 points.
After the game, Patton put a perspective on his team who finishes its season with a 9-14 record.
"We started off winning only one of our first six games and then we went 8-9. Losing Anthony (Agosti) really hurt our scoring. We only averaged about 37 points a game without him. With that being said, I told the team that we did very well overall. We gained a lot of experience for being such a young team."
Then with a smile, Patton added, "Some of our players were playing eighth grade and CYO basketball last year and tonight they performed on the big stage in a state playoff game. They have learned a lot from this experience."
Vercusky 5-3-4-13, Mussoline 1-2-2-4, Wesnner 3-2-4-8, Swetz 0-1-2-1, Kuczynski 2-0-0-4, Paluck 1-0-0-2, Latham 0-1-2-1, Karnish 0-0-0-0, N. Agosti 0-0-0-0, Kubisian 0-0-0-0, Weber 0-0-0-0, Legath 0-0-0-0, Puza 0-0-0-0, Myers 0-0-0-0, Inama 0-0-0-0. TOTALS: 12-9-14-33.
Marbury 3-3-4-10, Holmes 5-0-0-11, Goffredo 6-4-4-21, Duviella 1-0-0-3, Plante 7-0-0-15, Saco 0-2-2-2, Simpson 1-0-0-2, Weller 0-0-0-0, Brotzman 0-0-0-0, Moore 0-0-0-0. TOTALS: 23-9-10-64.
Marian 8 3 12 10 33
Pius X 16 13 14 21 64
Three-pointers: M-none; Pius - Marbury 1, Holmes1, Duviella 1, Goffredo 5, Plante 1.