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Tim Kreeger, Jason Ellis, Caleb Hoyng lead MC men past rival Muskingum

Photo by Ron Johnston Marietta College’s Tim Kreeger goes up for a shot during a college men’s basketball game against Muskingum Wednesday at Ban Johnson Arena. Kreeger scored a team-high 21 points.

Marietta College gave Muskingum University a dose of “Special K.”

Tim Kreeger scored a team-high 21 points, including 17 in the first half, to help the Pioneers defeat the Fighting Muskies, 95-73, Wednesday night in an Ohio Athletic Conference men’s basketball game at Ban Johnson Arena.

“My teammates had a lot of trust in me and so did my coaches,” said the 6-foot-8 junior pivot player, who was 10 of 15 from the floor.

Kreeger was three points shy from tying his single-game career high of 24 points, which he accomplished against Saint Vincent on Nov. 17, 2018.

“Timmy stepped up big tonight,” said MC head coach Jon VanderWal. “We wanted to have a post presense going into the game, and I thought Tim executed the game plan really well. He was showing his hands and demanding the ball.

“He missed a couple of bunnies at the start, but I was proud of him for not getting discouraged. He just kept going at it. Then he kind of got it going. And when he gets it going, he’s hard to stop.”

Jason Ellis added 20 points while Caleb Hoyng had a double-double with 18 points, including four triples, and 13 rebounds. Eleven of the 14 Pioneers who saw action scored.

“I love my team,” Kreeger said. “We come to work every day and work hard. Everyone’s always balled 100 percent in. We’re really coachable.

“It’s just a great team and a great coaching staff. Hopefully, it’ll be a special year.”

Marietta, No. 8-ranked in D3hoops.com Top 25 with an 11-1 overall record (5-0 OAC), extended its win streak to three.

Muskingum fell to 7-5 and 2-3. The Muskies were paced by sharpshooter Marcus Dempsey’s game-high 28 points.

The 6-1 junior was averaging 30.2 ppg going into the contest.

The high-scoring Dempsey was guarded by MC 6-6 starter Mike Hall and 5-11 sub Mason Lydic.

“Mason and Mike did a tremendous job on Dempsey,” VanderWal said. “But it was a team effort. We had a game plan. And the guys executed it really well. I thought they guarded him really well. We had guys in the gaps all night long. So, I think Mike and Mason felt comfortable that they could guard him, because on each side of them, we had guys in the gap.

“He’s (Dempsey) one of the best offensive players around, and we kept him under his average. I think the key was he only got to the line eight times.”

Tanner Gensler chipped in with 12 markers while Trey Singleton and M.J. Smith had 10 and 9, respectively for MU, which has dropped 19 straight in the series to the Pioneers.

MC actually got off to a slow start and trailed the Muskies, 7-0, at the 17:17 mark. But it was early, and thanks to Kreeger, the Pioneers righted the ship and led 45-31 at halftime.

“That is a career high (17 points) for my first half at Marietta,” Kreeger said.

After the break, Kreeger wore jersey number 24 instead of his normal number 5. He attempted only three shots and made two.

But the Pioneers at that point were in total command with a double-digit lead for the entire second half.

“We’ve got a nice team, and we’ve got a lot of weapons,” VanderWal said. “We’ve got great kids, and as long as they stay focused and keep working hard, we’ve got a chance to be really good.”

Ron Johnston can be reached at rjohnston@mariettatimes.com

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