Prep boys basketball: MHS falls to ZHS

ZANESVILLE – Marietta tried to make Zanesville’s Senior Night a forgettable one Friday.

The Tigers held the lead for most of the first half and were up 27-26 with 1:55 left in the third quarter.

The Blue Devils then responded, forcing eight consecutive turnovers to spark a 13-0 run as they held on for a 49-39 East Central Ohio League victory at Winland Memorial Gymnasium.

“We picked up the ball pressure during that segment,” Zanesville coach Scott Aronhalt said. “We started to finish some shots. J.T. (McFarland) was able to score off some screens or got the ball to someone else who scored. He was really good during that stretch.”

The Blue Devils (13-0, 20-0) struggled to find their shooting touch early, going 7-of-21 from the floor in the first half and trailing 10-5 after one quarter and 13-7 early in the second.

But Zanesville rallied to take a 18-15 halftime lead and were up 24-18 early in the third after Dar Stanford scored off a steal.

Marietta (4-9 ECOL, 9-12) clawed back and went up 27-26 behind a 3-pointer by Connor Beavers and Braden Riley’s basket.

McFarland, who had a game-high 15 points, then answered. The senior converted a three-point play thanks to a nifty reverse layup, then found Kade Johnson – who made two free throws – to give Zanesville a 31-27 edge through three.

Ramon Wilson opened the fourth with a pair of free throws, and baskets by McFarland, Johnson and Granger Long put the Blue Devils up 39-27.

The Tigers got as close as 41-37, thanks to five conseecutive points by Corey Hill. But Zanesville made 6 of 8 at the line to seal it.

“McFarland really hurt us with his dribble penetration,” Marietta coach Mark Duckworth said. “Zanesville is a well-coached team and earned this win. They made their free throws, especially late.”

The inside play kept the Tigers in the game. Riley, a 6-foot-5 senior, had 10 points and seven rebounds and 6-6 junior Jonathan Wood added 10 points and six rebounds as Marietta held a 26-21 rebounding edge.

“We want to pound the ball inside. Our post players are our strength,” Duckworth said. “I was proud of our effort.”

Aronhalt said his defense played a role in Marietta’s post performance, especially in the first half.

“We allowed them to set up in the post,” Aronhalt said.

“Our defense didn’t get pressure on them, and we didn’t help ourselves on the offensive end. We took some dumb shots, and just couldn’t make anything (in the first half).”

Stanford also reached double figures with 10 points. McFarland and Johnson had four rebounds each for the Blue Devils, who were 16-of-40 for the game.

Hill had a team-high 11 points for the Tigers, who went 16 for 35 and committed 20 turnovers – 12 in the second half.

Zanesville plays at Westerville North today, then travels to state-ranked Massillon Jackson on Monday. Both start with reserves at 5 p.m. followed by varsity at 6:30 p.m.

Matt Weir led four reserve players in double figures with 15 as the Blue Devils routed Marietta 70-38.

Derek Grandstaff added 13 and Austin Blatt and KeShawn Underwood had 11 apiece in the win. Isaac Danford led the Tigers with 10.