Colts clinch D-3 crown
steve shinko/special to the times news Marian's Cody Decker (22) goes over Zack Chesney of Lourdes Regional to get off a shot. Looking on is Lourdes' Joe Gownley (24).
When the opportunity presented itself, the Marian boys' basketball team acted upon it.
After both Mahanoy Area and Weatherly lost Tuesday night, it opened the door for the Colts to clinch their third straight Division 3 title.
The Colts got the job done with a 57-44 victory over Lourdes Regional to wrap up a spot in the Schuylkill League playoffs.
"Lourdes is a scrappy, physical team," Marian coach Mick Stefanek said. "They gave us what I think was their best shot tonight. They gave us quite a few punches and we're still standing. We were able to get out of here with the victory."
The Colts (14-3, 9-0) were dealt a blow even before stepping on the court against Lourdes. Starting point guard Chris Barletta was scratched from the lineup due to illness.
The Colts handled that setback.
"This is a group that when thing aren't going well, we regroup, refocus and still get the job done," Stefanek said. "We have some good leaders on this team. Instead of pointing fingers or yelling at each other, they're rallying around each other and encouraging each other.
"Instead, they come out and play with some enthusiasm. And, that's what we had to do a few times tonight. That's why we were able to come out on top."
The Colts shook off a pesky Red Raiders' attack, which didn't go away easily.
Marian started the game with a 6-0 before the Red Raiders pulled within 9-6 by the end of the first quarter.
The teams exchanged baskets for most of the second until the Colts went on a 12-0 run that extended straight into the third quarter.
The Red Raiders answered with an 11-0 run to pull within one, 28-27 with 3:19 left in the third period.
Ryan Gimbi and Matt Yaich sparked an 8-0 run to put the hosts back up by nine. However, that was before the Red Raiders' Matt Gilger made it an eight-point lead enter the final stanza.
In the fourth, all five Colt starters - Cody Decker, Gimbi, Tom Gottstein, Yaich and Drew Sherkness - put points on the scoreboard in Marian's 21-point fourth.
Decker recorded six of his 10 points in that quarter, while Gottstein saw four of his 10 points come at the foul line. Gimbi, who finished the night with a dozen, chipped in by nailing both ends of two free throws. Sherkness scored five of his 11 points down the stretch.
Yaich netted four of his team 14 points in the final eight minutes to make it the first time all season that all five Marian starters reached double figures.
All in all, it was the way the Colts responded to every challenge they faced that evening that made Stefanek a bit more proud of his players.
"There were some big time swings in this game and ultimately we were able to finish out on top," Stefanek said. "It's nice to get out of here with this win. But, it's a quality win for the program and it simply shows the character of the team, which I'm really proud of.
"They had a few runs on us and we withstood them. That's what impresses me about this team tonight. We were able to maintain a lead, fight off them battling back and then be able to build another lead to finish it off."
Loftus 0-5-6-5, Vanaskie 1-0-1-2, Gilger 4-1-2-11, Chesney 5-1-2-14, Bastian 4-0-0-8, Gownley 0-0-0-0, Kalinski 0-0-0-0, Kistler 2-0-0-4. TOTALS: 16-7-11-44.
O'Donnell 0-0-0-0, Stawick 0-0-0-0, Decker 4-2-2-10, Gimbi 5-2-3-12, Gottstein 2-4-6-10, Lack 0-0-0-0, Yaich 4-5-8-14, Sherkness 5-1-2-11, Fital 0-0-0-0. TOTALS: 20-14-21-57.
Lourdes 6 10 12 16 - 44
Marian 9 11 16 21 - 57
Three-pointers: Lourdes - Chesney 3, Gilger 2; Marian - Gimbi 2, Yaich 1.