Marietta High's boys' basketball team probably learned something about itself in the New Philadelphia game, and hopefully can put that knowledge to good use when it hosts first Meadowbrook at Sutton Gym at 7:30 p.m. Friday and then Athens Saturday at the same time.
Against the Quakers, even though the final score might not reflect it, MHS played pretty good defense overall in a 55-40 loss.
New Philly of course played better.
Take away the second quarter, though, when the Tigers were outpointed 18-5, and this game had the makings of an old-fashioned barnburner.
Thing is, even with the second stanza, it was still close as Marietta, which trailed New Philadelphia 30-14 at halftime, was able to rally in the third period and reduce the deficit to six.
"The kids battled but it took a lot of energy to come back in the third quarter," said MHS head coach J.D. Secrest after the contest.
Marietta was able to come back in the third, thanks in part to a switch from a zone defense to man-to-man. The Tiger zone obviously wasn't effective in the first half, especially in the second quarter.
New Philly hit a couple of threes in the opening period but only led 12-9.
But in the second period, three Quaker players combined to drain four triples and all of a sudden, the visitor's advantage is in double digits.
When it was 19-11, Marietta called timeout at the 6:22 mark. When play was resumed, Brandon Fowler made a trey to give the Quakers a 22-11 lead.
Later, at the 3:05 mark, MHS signaled time again after Fowler and Ronnie Miller hit consecutive threes to make it 28-13.
As ineffective as the zone defense was, Marietta's offense and 14 first-half points wasn't much better. Eli Lenington, one of the Tigers' leading scorers on the season, hadn't even attempted a shot, and Nathan Williams was credited with only one shot.
At the start of the second half, MHS tried to get Lenington going and got the senior Tiger the ball in the right corner, where he launched and missed a shot.
Meanwhile, Tim Grosel, Marietta's top scorer, made a bucket to cut it to 14. And, after Fowler converted a putback, Williams got his first points of the game on a foul-line jumper off the glass. That "banks are open shot" made it 32-18 and was cause for a New Philadelphia timeout. The Quakers were having trouble with the Tigers' man defense and turning the ball over in the process.
When play was resumed, Grosel made a basket and bonus freebie. He followed that up with one-of-two from the line as did Justin Futrell.
Futrell then hit a shot, and all of a sudden the Tigers were only down 32-26 with a little over three minutes to play in the quarter.
Could Marietta pull it off? Well, as it turned out, the Tigers went scoreless the remainder of the third, and New Philadelphia to its credit bounced back and closed it out with a 6-0 run - all on layups.
"As a team, we look for layups and threes in that order," said NPHS head coach Chad Spurgeon after the game.
In the fourth quarter, Marietta was never able to cut it back into single digits, and was kept at bay by the Quakers, who actually extended their advantage to 19, 47-28 at one point.
Grosel finished with a game-high 22 points and was the only Tiger to score in double figures.
MHS as a team scored only 40 points, and allowed 55, which is a decent defensive effort.
Offensively, though, Marietta is hoping to step it up more against Meadowbrook and then Athens the following evening.
The Tigers are more than capable of doing so.
Let's face it, it's hard to win games with only 40 points showing on the scoreboard.
Ron Johnston is the Marietta Times sports editor and can be reached at 376-5441 or at firstname.lastname@example.org