With Marian facing Schuylkill League Division 3 rival Mahanoy Area for the third time this season, the Colts decided to mix things up a bit.
The Colts shifted between man and zone defenses and got off to a quick start on the offensive end to capture a 36-24 victory in their District 11 Class A quarterfinal contest Saturday afternoon at the Weatherly Middle School gym.
Top-seeded Marian (20-5) will now take on fourth-seeded Notre Dame of East Stroudsburg, a 67-53 winner over fifth-seeded Weatherly, on Tuesday at Northern Lehigh in a 7 p.m. tip-off.
The Colts, who won the two previous meetings with eighth-seeded Mahanoy (12-11), held the Golden Bears to an 8-for-36 effort from the field (22 percent) while connecting at a 50-percent clip (17-for-34) themselves.
Marian jumped out to a 15-10 after one quarter behind a pair of buckets each from junior point guard Chris Barletta and senior forward Matt Yaich.
The Colts then used an 11-2 advantage in the second quarter, getting five points from Barletta and four from Yaich, to blow out its bulge to 26-12 at half.
"Our kids did a great job of doing what we wanted them to do on the defensive end," said Marian coach Mick Stefanek. "We mixed it up throughout the game and we mixed it up within possessions.
"I think we were able to keep them off balance, and that was the number one key to the game"
Senior guard Cody Decker's role was to defend Jim Wagner, the Bears' 6-1 junior forward who averages nine points a game and limited him to a lone hoop.
"Cody has become our defensive stopper, and he's earned that with his hard work and willingness to take on our top defensive assignment," said Stefanek.
Mahanoy's strategy was to use a more deliberate halfcourt attack, but the Bears couldn't keep pace with the Colts.
"Marian is a good team and their defense is good," mentioned Mahanoy mentor Mickey Holland. "We shot poorly because our shot selection wasn't good. We strayed from our game plan. We wanted more ball movement.
"The fact that they had 26 points at halftime was a bad omen for us. The first time we played them, they didn't have Yaich, but the score was 31-29 and it had to be like that again for us to have a shot at them with the team we have."
The Bears pulled within 30-19 after three periods, but Decker scored on a putback and a 15-footer to push the lead back to 34-19 to take the steam out of any more Mahanoy rally bids.
Barletta topped the Colts with 11 points while Yaich had 10 points and seven rebounds. Decker just missed double digits with nine points.
Senglar 3-5-6-11, Goodman 1-0-0-3, Backo 0-0-0-0, Moucheron 1-0-0-3, Gaval 1-0-0-3, Wagner 1-0-0-2, Kimmel 1-0-0-2. TOTALS: 8-5-6-24.
Barletta 5-0-1-11, Stawick 1-0-0-2, Decker 4-0-0-9, Gimbi 2-0-0-4, Gottstein 0-0-0-0, Yaich 5-0-0-10, Sherkness 0-0-0-0, Fital 0-0-0-0. TOTALS: 17-0-1-36.
Mah. Area 10 2 7 5 - 24
Marian 15 11 4 6 - 36
Three-pointers: MA-Goodman 1, Moucheron 1, Gaval 1; Mar-Barletta 1, Decker 1.