Marian edges JT
Marian’s Tyler Fritz (left) tries to go over Jim Thorpe defender Kaiden Herron to get off a shot. For a photo gallery visit www.tnonline.com. BOB FORD/TIMES NEWS
Marian’s 6-3 senior guard, Tyler Fritz, has frequently shown in his career that he has the ability to score on the perimeter. There’s no better proof of that than Fritz recently breaking the Colts boy’s all-time scoring record.
But it’s been a different part of Fritz’s game this season that has helped the Colts get out to a 14-2 start, their best since 1995-96. Fritz’s post prowess has been a safety valve in key situations for Marian, and on Wednesday night against Jim Thorpe, he once again served as the Colts’ security blanket.
Fritz put together yet another 20-plus point effort, while also hauling in double-digit rebounds to help Marian pull out a 50-47 victory.
“He’s really become a very versatile player; he’s worked hard to get stronger, and he can play either outside or in the post for us,” said Marian head coach John Patton. “We can also go with a smaller and quicker lineup at times because he can move down low, and he can be really effective; his versatility is big for us.”
After the Colts and Olympians (5-12) battled in an overtime thriller in the season opener, odds were in favor of this one being tightly-contested as well, and the two teams didn’t disappoint. A 9-0 run by Thorpe to start the game, combated by an 8-0 run by the Colts gave a strong indication of what was to come.
The two squads continued to battle the rest of the half, with Marian holding a one-point edge at intermission. A Fritz deuce with three seconds to go in the second quarter gave the Colts their first lead of the game.
Fritz finished the half with 15 of Marian’s 22 points, and an impressive five offensive boards.
“Early on and throughout the game, our guys were pretty resilient,” said Patton. “We were down eight or nine early and fought back, and at the end of the game guys stepped up and made plays.”
Thorpe showed its resiliency in this one too, especially in the second half. An 8-0 Colts run around the three-minute mark in the third helped them gain a seven-point advantage (39-32) going into the fourth. The Olympians then answered, going on a 10-2 run to start the final frame, with James Adames and Adam Lauer combining for all 10 points to put Thorpe ahead by one with 4:20 remaining.
But Marian – as it did throughout the night when it felt pressure – went to Fritz. From the post, Fritz was able to score six points down the stretch, getting to the foul line and hitting a go-ahead turnaround jumper with one minute left (47-45) that put the Colts up for good.
The Olympians still had a chance after a missed Colts’ free throw attempt, trailing by three with six seconds remaining, but a pass in the far corner was mishandled and Thorpe never got a look.
“Our guys played hard; I thought we played tough defensively, holding them to 50 points, but I think it came down to us just missing some key free throws,” said Thorpe head coach Jason McElmoyle, referring to the Olympians going 6-for-18 from the foul line. “But some good things to take away. We battled back a few times tonight; I think a month ago we might not have been able to do that.”
LEADERS... Fritz finished with 25 points and 11 rebounds for Marian while Dante Agosti added 10 points. For Thorpe, Lauer led the way with 11 points, Chris Condly added 10 and Caiden Hurley chipped in with nine – all from three-point range.
TOUGH LOSSES... With the three-point loss to Marian, Thorpe has now lost five games by four points or less. The Olympians must now go 4-1 the rest of the way to qualify for a postseason berth.
T. Fritz 8-8-11-25, Ritsick 2-0-0-5, Agosti 2-4-8-10, L. Fritz 1-1-2-4, Malarkey 1-0-2-2, Goff 0-0-0-0, Cerullo 0-0-0-0, Eroh 0-0-0-0, Hnat 1-2-2-4. TOTALS: 15 15-25 50.
Condly 4-2-5-10, Richards 0-0-2-0, Hurley 3-0-0-9, Adames 3-0-4-8, Lauer 4-1-2-11, McHugh 0-0-0-0, Herron 1-0-0-2, Marykwas 2-3-5-7. TOTALS: 17 6-18 47.
Marian 11 11 17 11 - 50
Jim Thorpe 14 7 11 15 - 47
Three-pointers: M - Agosti 2, T. Fritz 1, Ritsick 1, L. Fritz 1; JT - Hurley 3, Adames 2, Lauer 2.