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Marietta girls take care of Waterford, 61-52

Morgan Altenburger drives against Waterford’s Alana Jones during Marietta’s 61-52 win on Tuesday. Altenburger scored her 1000th point in the contest. (Photo by Mike Morrison)

After struggling for almost all of the first half, the Marietta Lady Tigers were looking for a spark of any kind in the third quarter of Monday evenings showdown at Sutton Gymnasium against Waterford.

The Tigers got the spark they were looking for and then some as senior Adi Hill and freshman Saylor Wharff knocked down two triples apiece in a span of two minutes in the third quarter to erase a 10-point deficit as the Tigers rallied for a 61-52 over the Lady Wildcats.

Marietta senior Morgan Altenburger led all scorers with 22 points including point number 1,000 of her outstanding career at MHS which came on a free throw in the final quarter.

The Tigers trailed by 10 at the intermission but erupted for 25 points in the third quarter and 20 more in the fourth to win for the fifth time in their last six tries.

“We struggled big time in the first half… we didn’t take care of the basketball and we were flat and it was probably the worst two quarters I have seen us play in awhile,” said Marietta head coach Allen Ruth. “We tried to re-focus at halftime and came out and played well and I was really proud of them.”

The first quarter was not a pretty one for either squad as Waterford turned the ball over nine times while the Tigers nearly matched them with eight as the Wildcats took a 7-6 lead.

The Tigers tied the game early in the second quarter on a 3-pointer from senior Jessica Smith and and inside bucket from Hill.

Waterford jumped back in front by five thanks to field goals from juniors Mackenzie Suprano and Cara Taylor with less than four minutes to play in the half.

After a MHS bucket by Jennifer Smith briefly halted the Wildcat momentum, Suprano scored eight straight points as the visitors pulled out to a 26-13 lead.

The Tigers were able to cut the lead to 10 at half on a free throw from Jennifer Smith and a basket by Altenburger in the closing seconds.

Marietta went right to work in the third quarter to claw their way right back into the game.

Altenburger and Waterford senior Riley Schweikert opened the half by trading baskets off of offensive rebounds before Marietta closed the lead to five on a steal and basket by Jessica Smith and an old-fashioned three-point play by Altenburger.

A pair of freebies by Hill cut the lead to just three before Wharff tied the game with a long three off of an assist from Jessica Smith.

Suprano quickly put her team back in front with a driving bucket before MHS took their first lead since the opening minute of the game when Hill canned a three-pointer.

Waterford answered once again with a pair of free throws from Madi Heiner but the Tigers got back-to-back three-pointers from Wharff and Hill to turn the 10-point deficit into a five-point lead.

“It helps a lot when you are hitting threes,” said Ruth, ‘We just needed somebody to give us a spark and Adi knocking those two threes down and Saylor (Wharff) knocking a couple of them down really got us going.”

The Tigers increased that lead to seven by the end of the third quarter and quickly took their first double-digit lead of the game thanks to Altenburger.

The MHS senior opened the final period with a steal and basket in transition and then after coming up with yet another steal Altenburger was fouled and calmly stepped to the line to sink her 1,000th point as a Tiger.

“It was nice to get it in a game that was close and not a blow-out,” said Altenburger, who had always envisioned eclipsing the century mark with a three-pointer. “I’ve always worked hard to become a 1,000 point scorer and it hasn’t been done here in some time so it feels good.”

Trailing by 11 with six minutes to go the Wildcats could have easily packed things in but instead they put together a 14-6 run to cut the Tiger lead back to three with two minutes to play.

“We had that breakdown in the third quarter and that cost us,” said Waterford head coach Jerry Close. “We cut it down to three but just couldn’t get over the hump. I was pleased with the effort for the most part we’ve just got to play for all four quarters.”

Marietta made 20-of-24 free throw attempts in the game and took care of business down the stretch to squash any hopes of a fourth quarter comeback by the visitors.

In addition to her game-high 22 points, Altenburger added seven rebounds and came up with four steals on her big night.

“I’m so proud of Morgan she is one of the hardest working kids I have ever been associated with,” said Ruth. “For her to lead our program the way she does and mentors the younger kids I was glad she was able to do it at home. She is quite a player.”

Hill finished with 14 points including a perfect six-for-six from the line while Wharff added eight.

Suprano (18 points and 12 rebounds) and Schweikert (13 points and 11 boards) both finished with double-doubles for the visitors while Taylor added 15 points and eight rebounds.

The Tigers (7-5) will look to keep things going Wednesday night when they pay a visit to arch-rival Warren while the (8-5) Wildcats host Eastern on Thursday.

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