Prep girls basketball: MHS girls top Zanesville

Finding a way to finish is a huge key on the hardwood especially when each play in each game becomes more and more important with tournament time just around the corner.

After failing to finish out a game in which they led by as many as 20 points against River View Wednesday night, Marietta High rebounded nicely with a 47-42 East Central Ohio League victory Saturday over visiting and conference-leading Zanesville (15-5, 9-3).

Once again the Lady Tigers (14-5, 8-4) jumped out to a big first-half lead only to see their opponent come charging back after the break, but this time the orange and black found a way to withstand the challenge and grab their 14th victory of the season.

“We probably learned a little bit of a lesson the other night as there was not near as much panic today,” said Tiger head coach Mark Hannuksela. “You can learn from all of your experiences both good and bad and I give them a lot of credit for bouncing back today.”

MHS jumped out to a quick lead on a Taylor Smith three-ball, but the Devils answered on a pair of long range jumpers by Brooke Davy and Alexus Grimmett to claim a 6-5 lead.

Lain Weppler’s basket put the Tigers back in front, a lead that MHS would not surrender for the rest of the game.

Zanesville pulled to within a single point at 12-11 on a Leanne Ulbrich steal and bucket but Marietta finished the opening quarter strong when Weppler connected on a triple and Smith followed her own missed shot and put it up and in for a 17-11 Tiger lead.

Marietta carried that momentum into the second quarter as it scored the first seven points including a strong inside move and score by Alle Moore that capped a 12-0 run and put the Tigers in front by a 24-11 count.

Zanesville began to mount its comeback with less than four minutes to play in the half when Devyn Bonner scored four points of a 7-2 half-ending ZHS run that saw the Devils pull to within eight at 26-18 at the break.

The Devils continued to increase the pressure on the Lady Tigers as they put together a 9-2 run to open the second half and creep to within a single point of the Tigers at 28-27.

Marietta did not make a single field goal in the third quarter until Starr Johnson’s short jumper with less than a minute to play.

Weppler added a little bit of insurance for the Tigers as she sank a pair of freebies to close out the third period with MHS leading 32-27.

The Lady Tigers got somewhat of a break to open the final eight minutes as the Zanesville bench was issued a technical foul for disputing a call and Lauren Martin made them pay by connecting on both of the free throws to extend the lead to seven.

Three points in a row by Johnson made it an eight- point Tiger lead but once again Zanesville made one last attempt at retaking the lead. Bonner, who was held in check in the first half by the MHS defense, began to hit her stride in the final quarter as she scored 11 points by herself including a three-point play with 10 seconds to play that pulled Zanesville to within a pair at 44-42 with 11 seconds to play.

Zanesville immediately fouled Weppler on the next Marietta possession and the Tiger junior made the first of the one-on-one but missed the second to give Zanesville one last shot with less than eight seconds to play.

Marietta was the beneficiary of some bad Zanesville luck as Grimmett dribbled the ball into the forecourt before asking the referee for a timeout.

Unfortunately for Grimmett and the Lady Devils they had already used all of their alloted timeouts thus resulting in a technical foul.

Martin stepped to the line and promptly sank a pair of free throws to seal the deal for yet another Tiger victory.

With the game played in a definite playoff-like atmosphere, Hannuksela was pleased to come away with a hard earned victory.

“Against a team like Zanesville that comes at you as hard as they do, its great to come away with a win,” said Hannuksela, in his second tour of duty as Tiger head coach.”I like to think that we are getting better each time we step on the floor.”

Weppler led the way for Marietta with 16 points, while Johnson fell one short of a double-double as she pulled down a game-high 12 rebounds to go along with nine points. Bonner scored 13 of her game high 17 points in the second half while Grimmett added 11.

The Tigers will host Warren on Thursday night.