POTTSVILLE It was the "Perfect Storm" and Marian sailed right into it.
Friday night in the Schuylkill League championship game, the Fillies felt the fury of Tri-Valley's powerful defense.
The impact left Marian helpless to prevent a disaster.
Tri-Valley jumped out to a commanding early lead and rolled to a 48-21 victory.
As if a 33-point regular season loss to the undefeated Bulldogs wasn't enough to overcome, Marian was forced to deal with several other factors that combined to create a "Perfect Storm" that it couldn't outrun.
* Tri-Valley entered the game with a defense that Marian coach Paul Brutto hinted might be among the best in the state.
* The Bulldogs were challenged by coach Bob Felty to step up their play on the defensive end after what he considered a sub-par effort two nights earlier against Blue Mountain.
* Marian had to play the game without Danielle Tristani, one of their top offensive weapons, who was injured late in Wednesday's semifinal win over Jim Thorpe.
It all added up to a dominating defensive performance by Tri-Valley (24-0).
"They are an outstanding team," said Brutto. "They have the No. 1 defense in the area and maybe the No. 1 defense in the state as far as I'm concerned.
"They play great man-to-man defense and then they have [6-foot-4 Tara] Nahodil back there to clean things up if you're fortunate enough to beat them to the basket. That can be very imposing and intimidating for an offense."
How imposing was it?
Marian didn't hit its first field goal until 1:29 remained in the first half. By that time, the Bulldogs had built a 26-1 lead. The Fillies missed their first 21 shots from the field and turned the ball over six times before Gabby Green drained a jumper from just inside the foul line to end the drought.
"I'm pleased that we showed how we are capable of playing defense," said Felty. "[Wednesday night] Blue Mountain did some nice things against us, but I wasn't happy with how we defended.
"I'm very proud of how we played tonight."
Any hope Marian had of pulling the upset quickly disappeared with its ice cold start.
The Fillies trailed 12-0 after one quarter and 28-3 at halftime.
"I thought we got some good looks," said Brutto. "We missed some layups early that might have helped our confidence and then once they started pulling away I think we got frustrated and we took some bad shots that we rushed and forced."
Knowing how impossible Nahodil is to matchup against, and without Tristani, who at 5-9 is one of the Fillies' tallest players, Brutto threw a wrinkle at the Bulldogs to start the game.
The Fillies, long know for their fierce man-to-man defense, played a 2-3 zone the entire game.
"We played a little zone against them in our first meeting," said Brutto. "Nahodil is such a difficult matchup, we thought playing zone tonight gave us our best chance.
"I can't remember the last time we started a game playing zone defense. We don't work on it too much. I guess from a practical point of view, it's tough to install it in one day."
The Fillies continued to struggle from the floor in the second half and trailed 42-10 after three quarters. Marian was 3-for-35 from the field (8 percent) heading into the fourth period.
Despite the huge deficit, Brutto continued to coach hard in the second half and was happy with what he saw.
"I was pleased with our effort in the second half," he said. "We attacked the basket and we battled our rear ends off. We might have been awkward and clumsy at times, but I was pleased with how hard we played."
Nahodil was the game's only double figure scorer, finishing with 20 points.
Marian (18-5) was led by Green's five points.
Green 2-0-0-5, Faust 1-1-2-3, McLaughlin 1-2-6-4, Sofranko 1-0-0-2, Shaud 1-0-0-2, Nemeth 0-0-0-0, Wilson 1-0-0-3, Shober 1-0-0-2, Bray 0-0-0-0. TOTALS: 8-3-8-21.
Weber 2-1-3-6, Deibert 0-0-0-0, Newswanger 4-0-0-8, Spickler 2-0-0-4, Smeltz 1-0-0-2, Dietrich 0-0-0-0, Troutman 0-2-2-2, Ney 2-0-0-4, Stutzman 1-0-0-2, Nahodil 9-2-2-20. TOTALS: 21-5-7-48.
Marian 0 3 7 11 - 21
Tri-Valley 12 16 14 6 - 48
Three-pointers: M - Green 1, Wilson 1. TV - Weber 1.