Marietta High's boys basketball team will have a height advantage in the paint when it plays Claymont in its season opener at Sutton Gym tonight at 7:30 p.m.
Jon Wood, Braden Riley, and Jesse Wharff are 6-foot-6, 6-5, and 6-4, respectively.
The defending East Central Ohio League Gray champion Mustangs list two players on their roster - Austin Back and Brennan McGarry - at 6-3.
JORDAN HOLLAND The Marietta Times
Marietta’s Braden Riley fires up a shot during a prep basketball game against Belpre last season at Sutton Gymnasium.
"We need to take care of the basketball and utilize our post players," said head coach Mark Duckworth, who will be making his varsity debut at the Tigers helm against Claymont. "We can score inside if we can handle the pressure and get the ball there."
While MHS should be able to control the glass, there are other factors, like quickness, shooting, ball handling, defense, etc., that also can contribute to the outcome of a game.
Claymont, even with a lack of height, figures to be no pushover. In fact, the Scott Doak-coached Mustangs (1-0) are one-game up on the Tigers (0-0) as they tipped off their season with a 69-33 triumph at Carrollton last Friday night.
Not surprisingly, Duckworth and his staff were in attendance.
Claymont is senior-oriented with a relatively inexperienced frontcourt.
Along with Back, the Mustang roster also features 5-10 Tyler Golec, 5-10 Kohltin Miles, 6-2 Andrew Moorland, 5-9 Alan Ruffini, 6-1 Dylan Sterling, and 6-2 Dallas Clarke, the team's three-point bomber. Two juniors who could see action are Ty Hicks and Tanner Shetler.
Clarke, Sterling, and Miles are returning lettermen.
Besides Wood, Riley and Wharff, some other Tiger cagers to keep an eye on tonight will be 6-2 Corey Hill, 5-8 Adam Gearhart, 5-10 Dillon Sturm, 5-8 Connor Beavers, and 6-2 John Henry.
Duckworth said he was "not settled in on starters" yet. But it does appear that Riley, Wood, and Sturm will get the nod at tip-off time. As for the other two, it'll depend on matchups.
Hill, a sharpshooter, is scheduled to have his tonsils and glands surgically removed on Wednesday. So, he'll be available for duty - and that's a plus, especially for the Tigers' perimeter shooting game.
"I may try to play him a minute or two at the end of quarters," Duckworth said. "He is trying."
One final note, the Claymont seniors have also never lost to Marietta, and that in itself should be another incentive for the Tigers to win on their home floor.
Win, and make the Mustangs' bus ride back to Uhrichsville in Tuscarawas County a long, silent trip.
"It's time to make it happen, and there is no better time than the home opener to get our season started," Duckworth said.