When Marian and Mahanoy Area meet on the hardwoods, you know you're going to get your money's worth.
Back on December 8, the Colts used an Alden Whah buzzer-beater at the end of regulation to claim the Panther Valley Tip-Off Tournament Championship with a 45-43 victory over the Golden Bears.
Last night in Hometown provided even more suspense, excitement and late-game heroics between the two Schuylkill League rivals, as Marian defeated Mahanoy Area for the second time (in three games) this season with a 49-47 Schuylkill League Division 3 double-overtime thriller.
"I just got done telling the kids that this is what high school basketball should be like," stated Marian head coach John Patton. "It's Marian/Mahanoy Area, it's a rivalry game, and it's at the end of the year for a reason. I've been doing this (coaching) for 15 years now, and I can't think of a game that was more fun to be a part of.
"As far as excitement goes, this one ranks right up there with the Mahanoy Area District Championship game of two years ago," added Patton. "It's a great rivalry and I just love the atmosphere around it. Last year we got a big win at home when we really needed one, and this year we got another big win at home at the end of the season."
Mahanoy Area (16-4, 11-1) entered the game having won 15 of its last 16 contests, but the Colts have now been responsible for two of those losses.
After trailing by two at halftime (24-22) and being down by as many as six points in the second half, Marian found itself in a four-point deficit (40-36) with just over two minutes remaining in regulation. A Ryan Karnish three-pointer, and an Alden Whah rebound and put back gave the Colts a 41-40 lead with just over a minute remaining. On Mahanoy Area's last possession of regulation, Golden Bears big man Tyler Cavenas missed a shot, grabbed his own rebound and was fouled with 10 seconds on the clock. Cavenas missed the front end of the free throw, but drained the second attempt to force overtime with the score knotted at 41-41.
In the first overtime session, a Whah bucket put the Colts up 43-41, before Mahanoy's Dylan Mahmod buried a three-pointer to give the Golden Bears a one-point lead (44-43). A Damian Richard three-point play then put Marian back on top by two (46-44). With the Colts leading 46-45, Whah converted the front end of a two-shot foul (47-45) but Cavenas grabbed the rebound with the seconds ticking away. Similar to the end of regulation, Cavenas missed a shot in the paint, but grabbed his own rebound and was fouled on a shot attempt at the buzzer. With no time left on the clock, Cavenas cooly made both pressure free throws to force a second overtime tied at 47-47.
"Cavenas has really developed into a complete player and he does everything you could ask him to do," said Patton. "He plays great defense, he rebounds, he shoots the ball, and now he's shooting the ball well from the foul line. Tonight he made the clutch shots when he needed to make them."
Neither team scored a field goal in the second overtime period, as Marian missed its three attempts from the floor, while Mahanoy Area failed on its two shots. The Colts used free throws by Damian Richards and Anthony Agosti to take a 49-47 lead, as both teams combined to shoot just 2-for-8 from the free throw line in the second overtime. With 11 seconds remaining and trailing by one, Mahanoy's Dylan Mahmod missed two free throws. Then, with six seconds left, Anthony Agosti managed to go just 1-of-2 from the charity stripe. With time winding down on the Golden Bears' final possession, Mahmod had an open look for a potential game-winning three-pointer, but the ball went in and out as the buzzer sounded, as the Marian student section stormed the court.
"We told the kids that the X's and O's go out the window. Right now, it's about who can play the hardest for the longest period of time," stressed Patton. "Tonight was a battle, but one thing's for sure, these kids will remember this win for a long time to come."
Anthony Agosti led Marian (16-5, 8-4) with 13 points, while Alden Whah accounted for 11 points and 11 rebounds.
Tyler Cavenas paced Mahanoy Area with a game-high 22 points and 12 rebounds.
Mahanoy Area shot 16-for-46 from the floor, while Marian converted 16 of its 44 shot attempts. Both teams pulled down 34 rebounds and turned the ball over 12 times.
The Golden Bears won the JV contest, 34-30.
Cavenas 8-6-10-22, Kuzma 2-0-0-6, Mahmod 3-2-5-10, Miller 1-2-2-5, McGee 2-0-2-4, Merchlinsky 0-0-0-0, Richmond 0-0-2-0. TOTALS: 16-10-21-47.
Whah 4-3-4-11, Kweder 2-0-0-6, R. Karnish 3-1-5-8, Richards 2-5-6-9, Swankoski 0-2-4-2, Damian 0-0-0-0, A. Agosti 5-1-3-13. TOTALS: 16-12-22-49.
Mah. Area 16 8 7 10 6 0 - 47
Marian 13 9 8 11 6 2 - 49
Three-Pointers: Mahanoy Area - Kuzma 2, Mahmod 2, Miller 1; Marian - Kweder 2, A. Agosti 2, R. Karnish 1.