Sports Talk: Ongoing drama continues at Ban Johnson Arena

Marietta College has played three Ohio Athletic Conference men’s basketball games at home in February, and all of them have been nail-biters.

“There’s been a lot of drama in Ban Johnson in the last week and a half,” said MC head coach Jon VanderWal after the OAC second-place Pioneers defeated Baldwin-Wallace, 72-70, Saturday on Jacob Owens’ late triple.

Earlier in the week, on Feb. 6, in a battle for first place in the OAC, Marietta dropped a 70-67 overtime decision to now first-place Capital University.

And, in the game before that showdown, on Saturday, Feb. 2, the Pioneers had to stage a second-half rally before beating Heidelberg University, 92-89, in double overtime.

“We came out on top in two out of the three,” said VanderWal, whose navy blue and white cagers currently are 17-6 overall and 13-3 in the OAC. “I wish we could’ve won all three, but that’s the way it goes.”

Marietta also could’ve easily have dropped all three, but that fortunately didn’t occur. The Pioneer boss, needless to say, was a little relieved after wresting victory from the jaws of defeat against B-W.

“It was just two good teams duking it out,” VanderWal said. “I’m just happy we made the last shot.

“We’re still trying to maybe, possibly put ourselves in a position to get that at-large bid if we happen to lose in the (OAC) tournament. And this win will help.”

VanderWal paused.

“We’re going to probably have to run the table,” he said.

Marietta is scheduled to close out regular-season play on the road at Mount Union on Wednesday and at John Carroll University this coming Saturday. The Pioneers have defeated the Purple Raiders and Blue Streaks already this season.

Capital, currently the top seed with a 16-6 overall and 13-2 OAC mark after Saturday’s 75-64 triumph at Otterbein, is scheduled to close out regular-season play at home against Muskingum on Wednesday and Ohio Northern on Saturday.

MC, which will be either the No. 2 or No. 1 seed when the OAC Tournament tips off Feb. 18, is slated to host a league opponent on Thursday, Feb. 21. The championship game, which is set for Saturday, Feb. 23, will be at the highest remaining seed.

Hopefuly, that will be Marietta at Ban Johnson Arena.

Will the game be tight?

You can almost count on it.

Ron Johnston is the Marietta Times sports editor and can be reached at 376-5441 or at