POTTSVILLE - The Colts knew Mahanoy would make a run. And they were ready for it.
After leading the entire game, at one point by as much as 16 points, Marian withstood a late 18-3 run that made it a one-point game to win its second straight District 11 Class A title, 53-43 Friday night at Martz Hall.
"I couldn't ask for anything more," said Marian leading scorer Chris Barletta, who scored 24 points on 8-for-15 shooting. "I've been thinking about it all week. I was nervous. I couldn't sleep. But now that we got it done it feels great."
Despite having beaten the Bears three previous times this season, No. 1 seed Marian expected a fight from the No. 3 seed.
"We talked about the last time we played them," said Marian head coach John Patton. "They play hard and they never give up. Last time we played them they scored 24 points in the fourth quarter."
Mahanoy lives and dies by the three-point shot and the Colts nuetralized the Bears' three-point shooters for most of the game. They made just one of nine attempst in the first half and missed their first two of the second half.
Mahanoy finally got hot in the fourth quarter, hitting four treys during their late run that turned a 38-22 Marian lead into a slim 41-40 cushion with 1:33 left in the game.
"I knew they were going to come back at some point," Barletta said. "They're good shooters."
The Colts answered with a three-point play by Ryan Gimbi and a foul shot from Barletta to make it 45-40. Gimbi made two of four more free throw attempts before freshman Anthony Agosti sealed the win by hitting 4-of-4 attempts in the final 14 seconds.
With an entire season under his belt, he no longer feels like a ninth grader.
"Coming out for this game I feel like I'm part of this team," Agosti said. "I don't feel like a freshman anymore. I knew I could make them."
"That was a big play by the young kid," Barletta said. "Getting up there and making those foul shots. That was awesome. I'm happy for him."
Agosti got all five of his points on free throws, but he was just as important on the defensive end. He guarded Mahanoy's leading three-point shooter, Michael Gaval, and held him to just two threes on seven attempts. Gaval didn't get off a three in the first quarter and missed all four of his attempts in the second.
"That was my goal" Agosti said. "To shut him down. He's a great player. I knew it was going to be tough."
The Bears didn't have an answer for Barletta. He continually drove to the basket, making open and contested layups. He also dished out three assists and played solid defense, making three steals.
"He doesn't just score," said Patton. "He finds people. He does so many other things that people don't notice."
The Colts jumped out to an early lead, 13-7 after one quarter, thanks in part to a pair of three-pointers by Mark Stawick.
They built the lead up to 23-12 in the second quarter, but the Bears cut it to 23-16 with the final two baskets of the first half.
Barletta carried the Colts offense in the third quarter, scoring eight points and helping build a 31-17 lead with 3:13 to play.
Marian built its biggest lead early in the fourth. A Mahanoy turnover led to a Gimbi slam dunk. Barletta followed it with a pair of foul shots to make it 38-22 with 5:52 to play.
The Bears made their run after that, but never managed to tie or take the lead.
"I'm proud of the way we came back," said Mahanoy head coach Mick Holland. "I'm glad we didn't do what I was afraid of - just start taking quick shots."
The Colts advance to the state tournament where they will face the District 12 second place team next Friday night. Mahanoy also advances to face the District 4 second place team next Friday.
Goodman 3-0-0-9, Gaval 3-1-2-9, Wagner 9-2-4-21, McGee 0-0-0-0, Baker 0-2-2-2, Cavenas 0-0-0-0, Kimmel 1-0-0-2. TOTALS: 16-5-8-43.
Stawick 4-0-0-10, Barletta 8-8-16-24, Karnish 0-0-0-0, Pilla 0-0-0-0, Gimbi 4-4-6-12, Baker 0-0-0-0, Dom. Richards 1-0-5-2, Agosti 0-5-6-5. TOTALS 17-17-33-53.
Mahanoy Area 7 9 6 21 - 43
Marian Catholic 13 10 9 21 - 53
Three-pointers: MA - Goodman 3, Gaval 2, Wagner 1; Marian - Stawick 2.