Marian never trailed in Saturday's non-league contest against rival Jim Thorpe.

But by no means does that imply the Colts' 48-43 win came easy.

After racing to a huge first quarter lead against the host Olympians, John Patton's club battled through a number of factors to pull out yet another victory.

"We ran our offense real well and got some good looks early," said Patton, whose team improved to 14-4. "The momentum carried us and early on, we played well.

"Later on you saw some fatigue set in from playing (Friday) afternoon and then coming back early the next day. We didn't execute as well as I would have hoped but we played through it and that's a credit to the guys that were out there."

Chris Barletta and Ryan Gimbi earned most of the credit for the Colts' fast start.

Whether it was Barletta finishing on his drives, hitting from the perimeter, or dumping the ball off to Gimbi inside, the two seemed to score at will in the opening minutes.

Gimbi tallied 10 points and Barletta had nine in the opening frame as the visitors raced to a 21-8 advantage.

That start not only put Jim Thorpe in a deep hole but it forced the Olympians (5-13) to make an early switch.

"For whatever reason, there's always a little stretch that does us in," said JT mentor Brian Carroll. "Today it was at the beginning of the game. Give Marian credit. They chewed up our zone early.

"We had to resort to drastic matters. I knew Gimbi and Barletta were their two top guns so we just had to gamble and force other guys to make shots from outside. It worked for most of the game and it gave us a chance."

Carroll's junk defense against Marian's duo payed immediate dividends. The Colts shot just 1-of-11 from the floor in the second period and Thorpe was able to trim the deficit to 25-18 by the break.

The Olympians continued to cut into the lead during the second half and actually tied the contest at 34-34 on JT Otto's drive late in the third frame.

"The shots were there, we just didn't make them," said Patton. "(Their defense) definitely gave us some problems.

"After Otto hit his shot to tie the game and they called timeout, I told our guys we have the ball and all we have to do is execute. We never got behind and we were never chasing them. That's huge, especially on a senior-laden team."

Marian came out from that timeout and worked the ball down low to Dominic Richards, who converted inside with four seconds left in the period.

From there, the Colts finished things off at the free-throw line ... barely.

A 5-of-13 showing at the stripe through the first seven minutes of the final frame allowed Patton's team to cling to a 43-37 advantage. Buckets from Dane Ciavarella, PJ Johnson and Otto, however, allowed the host club to pull within 44-43 with 39 seconds to play.

Mark Stawick drained a pair of free throws moments later to push the margin back to three. With time running down, an open Otto just missed a three-pointer and the Colts hung on for the victory.

"It's a huge win," said Patton. "Whether they're at home, on the road, in the league or exhibition, rivalry games are always tough. They played hard and never gave up. We had them down and they didn't quit.

"Give our guys credit," said Carroll. "They battled back, especially PJ Johnson, who played probably his best game. The difference was probably our sluggish first quarter. They executed better than us."

In the JV game, Marian captured a 57-43 win behind 20 points from Ryan Karnish.

MARIAN

Keer 0-0-0-0, Stawick 1-5-6-7, Barletta 5-3-8-14, Karnish 1-0-0-3, Pilla 0-0-0-0, Gimbi 7-2-6-16, Baker 0-0-0-0, Do. Richards 2-4-8-8, Agosti 0-0-0-0. TOTALS: 16-14-28-48.

JIM THORPE

DiBonifazio 0-0-0-0, Moore 1-0-0-3, Lynch 0-0-0-0, Ciavarella 3-1-1-7, McGill 1-0-0-2, Otto 3-1-2-7, Brown 2-0-0-4, Clark 2-0-0-4, Johnson 6-4-8-16. TOTALS: 18-6-11-43.

Marian 21 4 11 12 - 48

Jim Thorpe 8 10 16 9 - 43

Three-pointers: Marian - Barletta 1, Karnish 1; Jim Thorpe - Moore 1.