Gimbi is clutch in final quarter
POTTSVILLE For three quarters, Marian's Ryan Gimbi quietly went about his game.
A rebound here, a basket there. It was 24 minutes of solid, steady play by the Colt senior.
But in the fourth quarter, Gimbi went from solid and steady to spectacular and sensational.
As Marian watched its game with Mahanoy Area morph from blowout to barnburner, Gimbi turned in what were arguably the three biggest plays of the night.
Thanks in large part to those plays, Marian was able to hold off a furious comeback and defeat the Bears, 53-43, for its second consecutive District 11 Class A boys basketball championship.
"Ryan is really an under-rated player," said Marian coach John Patton. "Probably one of the biggest reasons is because he plays alongside Chris Barletta. Chris is such an outstanding player that sometimes our other guys can kind of get lost in the shuffle.
"But Ryan has played extremely well for us all season. He has made big plays for us time and time again this year and he did it again tonight."
Through three quarters of play, Gimbi had five points and six rebounds as the Colts built a double digit lead.
A six-point Marian run to start the final period, highlighted by Gimbi's first big play a steal and rim-rattling dunk appeared to put the Colts in cruise control.
"That's the first time I dunked in a game this year," said Gimbi about his throw down. "I've done it at practice, but I never had the opportunity in a game.
"It felt awesome and then our bench and the entire place seemed to go crazy so I was pretty pumped up."
With Marian leading 38-22 with under six minutes remaining, it looked like the Colts weren't going to need big plays down the stretch from Gimbi or anyone else.
That quickly changed.
"Ryan's dunk really set the place off," said Patton. "But I knew it wasn't over. When we got back to the bench after Mahanoy called a time out, I told our kids that the way they can shoot threes we couldn't relax."
Patton proved to be prophetic the Bears heated up from downtown and eventually pulled to within 41-40.
Gimbi then delivered again.
With all the momentum in Mahanoy Area's favor, Gimbi took a pass on the wing and drove hard to the basket. He hit his layup and was fouled, completing the three-point play with just 1:05 remaining.
"When Gimbi gets that first step on you he's hard to stop," said Bear coach Mickey Holland. "He's a slasher and he has good body control. That was a big three-point play."
After hurting the Bears on the defensive end and the offensive end, Gimbi capped his big fourth quarter with another display of his versatility.
With the Colts holding a 45-42 lead with :41 remaining, Barletta missed a pair of free throws, but Gimbi grabbed the offensive rebound and was eventually fouled. His free throw made it a two possession game and Mahanoy Area never got any closer.
"Chris [Barletta] is a great player and he does so much for us that I just have to fill my role," said Gimbi. "Some nights it's scoring, some nights it's rebounding. I just try to do whatever the team needs."
As far as making plays in the clutch, Gimbi said that's all part of filling his role as well.
"As a senior, I've been a part of this program for a long time," he said. "So when we needed a play to stop their momentum at the end of the game, I was confident that I could help us."
Gimbi's "help" was just what the Colts needed and just when they needed it. Because of it, Gimbi and teammates were able to help themselves to more District 11 hardware.