Marietta High's boys basketball team is going into 2011 with a sparkling 5-1 overall record. The Tigers are scheduled to play their first game of the new year against Logan in a Southeastern Ohio Athletic League tilt at Sutton Gymnasium at 7:30 p.m. Monday night.
The contest was orginally slated for Tuesday evening, but that's the same night The Ohio State University football team faces Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl.
So, now fans will get an opportunity to view both contests.
If you haven't seen the MHS boys compete on the hardwood, you're in for a surprise and treat - and not necessarily in that order. The Tiger cagers are very, very good - and of course their record reflects that.
What a difference a year makes. Last year at this time, Marietta was struggling enroute to a 4-16 mark. The Tigers were pretty much the doormat in the SEOAL.
But not this season.
Marietta is playing with a lot of confidence, something it was lacking last winter.
MHS tipped off the campaign with a rugged four-game road schedule and won three of those games. The Tigers' only setback was to SEOAL favorite Chillicothe.
Returning home to Sutton Gym, MHS defeated Athens 71-63 Dec. 23 and then Belpre 88-65 on Tuesday night. Before going back on the road to Athens Jan. 8, the Tigers will have two more home games.
It's nice to be home and nice to be back in this place," said fifth-year head coach J.D. Secrest after the Belpre rout.
"As long as these guys can keep that hunger that we had all summer and through these first six games, we can get ourselves mentioned in the league as someone that teams are going to have to prepare for," he said.
No question about that, and that's going to be difficult for some of Marietta's opponents. The Tigers feature a little bit of everything - size, quickness, shooting, good defense, and depth.
MHS will be tough to match up with when 6-foot-11 senior Jon Sewell positions himself in the low blocks. Really, if he gets the ball that close to the basket, who's going to stop him?
Against Athens, Sewell scored 18 points and grabbed eight rebounds.
Nathan Williams, at 6-4, is also no slouch in the paint with several putbacks against Belpre enroute to a game-high, 12-point night.
Connor Hess (6-2), Nat Thompson (6-6) and Braden Riley (6-4) provide the Tigers with good depth in the frontcourt.
Marietta's backcourt is as good as any in the SEOAL with starters' Wes Riley, Tim Grosel, and Morgan Wynn. All three like to run and shoot, and play solid defense. And, when Eli Lenington and Cody Kriechbaum come off the bench, the Tigers don't skip a beat.
Kriechbaum and Lenington had 12 and nine points, respectively, against the Golden Eagles.
"We've been looking for 32 minutes or 25 or 26 minutes, and tonight we finally got a team up and we didn't let them get back in the game," said Secrest after the Belpre game.
Logan is expected to provide Marietta with a challenge - but then, really, there are no gimme games in the SEOAL.
"Warren's going to be tough to beat," Secrest said. "It's going to tough to go to Portsmouth.
"We're going to get Logan's best game, and it's going to be a battle with Jackson. Now, we're in that position where we've kind of put a bull's eye on our back and people are going to have to play well."
Needless to say, it's a good position to be in.
Ron Johnston is the Marietta Times sports editor and can be reached at 376-5441 or at firstname.lastname@example.org