Austin Witucky, Jackson Graham lead Tigers past Coshocton, 52-44

MIKE MORRISON The Marietta Times Marietta High’s Austin Witucky, left, attacks the basket during a high school boys basketball game against Coshocton Tuesday at Sutton Gym. Marietta won, 52-44.

Marietta was not only trying to win at home for the first time since its season opener, but also was attempting to win two games in a row for the first time in the 2018-2019 campaign Tuesday night when it welcomed the Coshocton Redskins to Sutton Gymnasium.

The Tigers were able to check both boxes as they downed the Redskins 52-44 in an East Central Ohio League battle.

Austin Witucky and Jackson Graham combined for 33 points as the Tigers jumped out to an early lead and then spent the rest of the night holding off the pesky Redskins.

“We haven’t played with the lead much this year but we were able to stretch our lead late in the third quarter and early in the fourth,” said Tiger head coach J.D. Secrest. “We were able to make some good decisions and I was very proud of our defensive effort.”

Sparked by seven points from Witucky, MHS jumped out to a 12-8 lead after one quarter of play.

Photo by Mike Morrison Marietta High’s Ryan Mannix goes up for a basket during a high school boys basketball game against Coshocton Tuesday at Sutton Gym in Marietta. Marietta won, 52-44.

The orange and black quickly added to their lead in the second quarter when Graham opened the period with a triple and Witucky followed with another field goal after pulling down one of his team-high nine rebounds.

Junior guard Gaven Williams almost single-handily kept the ‘Skins in the game in the second quarter as he scored the final six points to cut the Tiger lead to 22-16 at the break.

Coshocton went right back to work to open the second half as it scored six of the first eight points, including a pair of field goals by Tyen Walker, to trim the Marietta lead to two.

A free throw by Ryan Mannix and another Graham 3-pointer quickly pushed the Tiger lead back to six and after a Williams jumper, Witucky scored an old-fashioned three-point play off a Mannix steal and then came up with a steal of his own and cashed it in to give the Tigers a 33-24 late in the third.

Witucky filled up his stat-sheet nicely as the six-foot-one inch senior scored 18 points, grabbed nine rebounds while also coming up with four steals.

“Austin works his tail off, he battles and gives us everything he has,” said Secrest of Witucky. “He had a very nice game in the post and knocked down his free throws a lot better.”

Mannix led the Tigers with five steals including one that resulted in a bucket in transition to open the final quarter before Derek Duckworth’s lay-up and a pair of mid-range jumpers by Graham opened the Tiger lead to 13.

Graham joined Witucky in double-figures with 15 and also made a positive impression on his head coach.

“Jackson got some shots off the dribble and some shots inside the three-point line which makes him more of a threat,” said Secrest. “He was able to get himself open and knocked down a bunch of key shots for us tonight.”

A pair of freebies by Duckworth pushed the Tiger lead to a game-high 15 with 2:49 to play before the Redskins rallied to cut the final deficit to eight. The win was the second ECOL win in a row for the Tigers, who improved to 3-6 on the season.

“If we play the way we are capable of playing and take care of the ball and rebound, we will be in these games in the fourth quarter,” said Secrest, whose team will travel to River View on Friday night. “That’s all we can ask is to be in the game in the fourth quarter and then we have to finish like we were able to tonight.”

Williams led the way with 18 for Coshocton, which fell to 5-5 on the year with the loss.