Marian fails to win title
BOB FORD/TIMES NEWS Chris Barletta of Marian (3) looks to take the ball to the basket against Pottsville's Bobby Schappell.
POTTSVILLE Marian has waited a long time to win a Schuylkill League boys championship.
After Friday night, the Colts are still waiting.
Suffering from its worst offensive effort in over three years, Marian was no match for Pottsville and dropped a 49-25 decision in the league's title game.
"The bottom line is we lost to a good team," said Marian head coach Mick Stefanek. "They did a great job. We're a good team too, and we'll bounce back.
"We just didn't score. We struggled offensively and that's a credit to Pottsville - plain and simple. They did a good job of denying the post. We also didn't hit our shots, and when that happened we started forcing the issue."
While the Colts (19-5) had trouble finding the bottom of the basket, they still managed to hang tough in the early going. Tommy Gottstein knocked down a three-pointer three minutes into the second quarter to pull Marian within 13-11.
After that, however, it was all Pottsville.
The Crimson Tide ended the half on a 6-0 run and began the third quarter with seven straight points, three of them coming on a Nick Schlitzer trey. Matt Yaich, who was held to just four points, ended the drought with a putback, but the host team received two free throws and another jumper from Schlitzer to help build the lead to 35-15.
"We had the ball to start the second half and had a designed play set," said Stefanek. "We got a good look but it just didn't fall. We had quite a few empty possessions after that and they just opened it up. We never recovered. They gained the momentum there and carried it to the end."
Pottsville's defense never allowed the Colts to gain any kind of momentum.
While the Tide (20-4) took away Marian's inside tandom of Yaich and Drew Sherkness (two points), their key was actually limiting point guard Chris Barletta.
"We really wanted to focus on Barletta and containing him off the dribble," said Pottsville mentor Dave Mullaney. "We thought if he could get into the paint he could create a lot of problems for us. (Bobby) Schappell did a great job on him ... We also wanted to make sure we were in the front and back of (Yaich) and (Sherkness) and for the most part we were able to do that.
"It was big for us the way we started the second half. Maybe I'm learning something as a coach. I coach not to lose too much, and these guys have taught me to trust them and just go out and play and not protect a lead but go out and increase the lead. We had a great third quarter."
Marian, meanwhile, didn't enjoy success in any quarter.
The Colts shot just 10-of-34 from the floor, including a 2-of-10 from three-point range. Ten turnovers in the middle frames also didn't help.
"We were a different team than what we were Wednesday night (against Jim Thorpe) and that's what's disappointing," said Stefanek. "We just struggled on the offensive end, but Pottsville had a lot to do with that.
"They're a good shooting team and they hit shots. Their strengths won over our strengths and that was the difference in the game. This isn't the end of the world. Out guys are still hungry and I have confidence that they'll bounce back."
Schlitzer finished with a game-high 14 points and seven rebounds while Josh Whalen contributed 13 points, including two key three-pointers. Barletta led Marian with seven points while Sherkness managed nine boards and four blocked shots.
Barletta 2-3-3-7, O'Donnell 0-0-0-0, Stawick 0-0-0-0, Nesgoda 0-0-0-0, Pilla 0-0-0-0, Martin 0-0-0-0, Decker 2-0-2-4, Gimbi 1-0-0-2, Gottstein 2-0-0-6, Yaich 2-0-0-4, Sherkness 1-0-2-2, Fital 0-0-0-0, Motil 0-0-0-0. TOTALS: 10-3-7-25.
Schappell 0-6-8-6, Schuettler 1-0-0-2, Witman 0-0-0-0, Heffner 2-2-2-6, Korrubin 0-0-0-0, Guers 1-0-0-2, Whalen 3-5-6-13, Leymeister 2-2-2-6, Tobin 0-0-0-0, Schlitzer 4-4-6-14, Spece 0-0-0-0, Conville 0-0-0-0. TOTALS: 13-19-24-49.
Marian 6 5 7 7 - 25
Pottsville 12 7 18 12 - 49
Three-pointers: Marian - Gottstein 2; Pottsville - Whalen 2, Schlitzer 2.