TAMAQUA - Numbers can be deceiving. So can the lack of numbers.
Anthony Agosti's stat line on Tuesday night doesn't merit a second look.
But Agosti's contribution to Marian's 52-34 District 11 Class AA semifinal victory over Moravian Academy went beyond mere numbers.
The roles of Chris Barletta, Ryan Gimbi, Dominic Richards and Mark Stawick in the Colts' victory can be found by glancing at the boxscore. To find Agosti's role, you need to look a little deeper.
But it's well worth the search.
Agosti, the Colts' defensive stopper, had the assignment of guarding Moravian Academy high-scorer Logan Bernard. He carried out that assignment perfectly, holding him to just two field goals and eight points.
On a night when Marian's offense struggled to find its rhythm, Agosti led a defensive effort that made sure it didn't matter.
Agosti didn't score a point in the game and had just one assist and two rebounds. But the most important numbers the Colt freshman was responsible for were Bernard's shooting numbers – 2-for-15.
"Bernard is a very good offensive player," said Marian coach John Patton "He was averaging 20 points a game this season and Anthony just took him right out of his game. He did a great job."
Agosti wasn't alone when it came to playing well defensively as Marian's man-to-man defense held the Lions without a field goal for long stretches time and time again.
"We had two weeks off since our last game and no matter how often you practice, it's just not the same as playing a game," said Patton. "I think that layoff hurt us some offensively. We looked rusty.
"Fortunately, our defense came up big for us."
Five different times in the game, Moravian Academy went over three minutes without a field goal, allowing the Colts to eventually pull away.
"They play an aggressive man-to-man defense and that gave us some problems," said Moravian Academy coach John Donmoyer. "We've seen a lot of man defense this year so it wasn't anything we weren't prepared to handle – and I did think we got some good looks – but we struggled all night to make shots.
"When you get to this level and play against this quality of competition, you can't afford to miss the opportunities you get."
Both teams struggled with their shots early as the Lions grabbed a 7-6 first quarter lead.
Although he went the last 15 minutes of the opening half without a basket, Marian's leading scorer Chris Barletta was able to work his way inside the Moravian defense to set up teammates in the second quarter as Marian grabbed a 24-17 halftime lead.
"Barletta is a nice player," said Donmoyer. "We had trouble stopping his penetration. He kept getting inside our zone and dishing off for layups. That hurt us in the second and third quarters when they opened some breathing room."
While Gimbi and Richards did most of the damage in the first half for the Colts, it was Stawick's offensive burst early in the third quarter that eventually help Marian take control.
After the Lions pulled to within five to start the third quarter, Marian scored 12 straight points, seven by Stawick, to open a 36-19 lead.
Moravian never got within nine the rest of the way.
"It was nice to get different guys to step up offensively," said Patton. "Ryan [Gimbi], Dominic [Richards] and Mark [Stawick] all did a nice job getting us some points."
Gimbi finished with 18 points and 13 rebounds to lead all players in both categories. Richards added 12 points and 11 boards. Barletta had 12 points, eight in the final period.
Marian (19-5) will meet Mahanoy Area, a 40-29 winner over Tri-Valley, on Friday at 7 p.m. at Martz Hall in Pottsville for the district championship.
Bernard 2-4-6-8, Pickle 0-0-0-0, Blair 1-0-2-2, Dyseri 2-0-0-4, Messman 1-0-0-2, Singh 5-3-4-13, Gutekunst 1-3-4-5, Thomas 0-0-0-0, Ender 0-0-0-0, Townsend 0-0-0-0, Anderson 0-0-0-0. TOTALS: 12-10-16-34.
Keer 0-0-0-0, Stawick 3-0-0-7, Barletta 4-4-4-12, Karnish 1-0-0-3, Pilla 0-0-0-0, Gimbi 7-4-5-18, Baker 0-0-0-0, Nesgoda 0-0-0-0, Da. Richards 0-0-0-0, Do. Richards 4-4-5-12, Agosti 0-0-0-0, Weber 0-0-0-0. TOTALS: 19-12-14-52.
Mor. Acad. 7 10 6 11 - 34
Marian 6 18 12 16 - 52
Three-pointers: MA - None; Marian - Stawick 1, Karnish 1.