Marietta picks up hard-fought win vs. Athens

Marietta’s Anthony Avendano, left, looks to pass as Athens’ Brayden Markins defends during a high school boys basketball game Tuesday at Sutton Gym. JORDAN HOLLAND The Marietta Times

Marietta has played a tough schedule so far this season, with a couple close games sprinkled in.

Those games paid dividends Tuesday as Marietta used its experience to hold off Athens for a 67-65 win at Sutton Gymnasium. The Tigers trailed by 10 at one point in the first half, but outscored the Bulldogs 38-31 in the second half to come away with their second victory of the season.

“The kids found a way to battle at the end,” said Marietta head coach Glenn Dawson. “We were trailing (34-29) coming in at halftime. They worked to get a lead and found ourselves in a fight at the end and pulled it out.”

Derek Duckworth had an all-around game for Marietta with a 17-point, 11-rebound double-double. He also tallied five assists and three steals.

“When you talk about guys putting the team on their shoulder, I think Derek Duckworth had an outstanding game,” Dawson said. “He took the lead out there.”

JORDAN HOLLAND The Marietta Times Marietta’s Max Miller (20) looks to pass as Athens’ Justin Hynes defends during a high school boys basketball game Tuesday at Sutton Gym. Marietta won, 67-65.

Duckworth was joined in double figure scoring by Max Miller (16) and Jermaine Burke (12). Anthony Avendano added nine points and five assists.

“Great team win,” said Duckworth, a junior co-captain for MHS.

“We created a lot of turnovers and made some easy buckets out of it. Then we did a good job of holding the ball at the end the last two minutes.”

Marietta took its first lead of the second half when Duckworth opened the fourth quarter with five straight points, making it 53-51. Later, 3-pointers by Avendano and Miller made it 59-53. The Tigers’ lead was trimmed to three with two minutes left, and Isaiah Butcher’s bucket with 1:10 remaining cut it to 66-65. The Tigers took care of the ball and contested Dalton Cozart’s 3-point attempt in the final seconds to secure the win.

“Our schedule is not easy and I think it helped prepare us for a battle tonight,” Dawson said. “The kids stepped up and got it done.”

Butcher, Athens’ 6-foot-3 center, scored a game-high 23 points and also grabbed nine rebounds.

“He surprised me with a little bit of outside shooting,” Dawson said. “He was a load and a challenge for us inside.”

Cozart scored 12 points while Eli Chubb added 10 points and nine boards. Justin Hynes chipped in nine points and 10 rebounds for the Bulldogs.

The Tigers hit 10 3-pointers in the game, with four coming from Burke and three coming from Miller off the bench.

“Proud of Max coming off the bench and giving us the effort that he had,” Dawson said. “Max came in and made some big shots for us.”

Added Duckworth, “When we can stretch the floor it really opens things up for us. We’ve got Max Miller and Jermaine Burke who can stretch the floor. It’s really hard for big guys to come out and guard us.”

Burke opened the game with a pair of 3s for an early 6-0 Tiger lead, but Athens took a 9-8 advantage when Butcher and Austin Koska hit back-to-back treys. Marietta regained a 15-14 lead at the end of the period.

Athens outscored Marietta 20-14 in the second quarter. The ‘Dogs used an 11-0 run to go up 28-19, and made it a 10-point game on Cozart’s steal and layup. Avendano hit a jumper before Duckworth splashed a deep 3 at the buzzer to trim it to 34-29 at halftime and give MHS some momentum. The Tigers chipped away in the third quarter, tying the game at 44-all at the 3:18 mark, but Athens maintained a 51-48 lead with a quarter left.

“We made a lot of mistakes,” Dawson said. “We had turnovers that we have to continue to clean up. But at the end of the day, it’s a win and I’m happy for the kids.”

The Tigers, now 2-4, are back in action Friday at Coshocton.

“I think we’re playing really well,” Duckworth said. “We’ve just got to keep shooting the ball, put the ball in the hoop, play great defense and put the effort in. Things will come our way.”