Tigers edge Marauders in home opener, 48-47
Despite having to watch most of the fourth quarter from the bench due to foul trouble, Marietta senior Tyler Kytta scored a game-high 19 points to lead the Tigers past Meigs 48-47 Tuesday at Sutton Gym.
This was Marietta’s second game out of three that was decided by one point. The Tigers lost their season opener to Zanesville, 47-46.
“This was a very good win for us,” said Marietta head coach J.D. Secrest. “We’re just a heartbeat away from being 3-0.”
Marietta (2-1) trailed Tuesday’s home opener 33-26 early in the third quarter. Kytta responded by scoring seven straight points to tie the game, then gave Marietta a 36-35 lead with a three-point play.
“We told Tyler before the season started he was going to have to work his tail off to score because he’s going to get everybody’s best defender,” Secrest said. “He did that tonight. He got points, but he worked his butt off to get them.”
Isaac Koast’s 3-pointer put the Tigers up four, but Meigs (0-2) closed the third period on an 8-0 run to go up 43-39 going into the final stanza.
Kytta picked up his fourth foul at the 7:15 mark in the fourth quarter and had to come out of the contest. His teammates needed to step up, and they did.
Elyjah Lieras-Kelley and Alex Kendall combined to score the game’s next five points to put Marietta up 44-43. Coulter Cleland, who led Meigs with 14 points, seven rebounds and five assists, made a layup with 4:05 remaining to put the Marauders back in front.
With 2:05 left, Meigs had the ball but Kendall came up with a steal and heaved a pass down the court to Lieras-Kelley, who put in the layup that put Marietta up for good.
In the final seconds, Meigs’ Brayden Stanley tried a deep 3 but was off the mark. Koast grabbed the rebound and was fouled.
He made both free-throws to make it 48-45 and secure the victory for Marietta.
“We knew Cleland was a heck of a player,” Secrest said. “Ely did a good job the last 35, 40 seconds there of taking away his look, and the other guys did a good job pressuring the ball. The shot they got (at the end) was not the shot they wanted. I think that’s a tribute to the defensive effort we gave.”
The Tigers held the Marauders to just four fourth-quarter points.
“I thought our guys really stepped it up,” Secrest said. “We threw multiple looks at them. My assistants, coach (Brandon) Mathews and coach (Josh) McKitrick, did a good job recognizing things and changing it up on them. One of the things that scares us is with our inexperience is our ability in tight games. I think we might’ve taken some strides tonight to be able to win close games.”
Kytta had five rebounds and three steals to go along with his 19 points. Koast finished with 11 points, Lieras-Kelley added nine points, four rebounds and three assists, while Graham chipped in seven points. Kendall grabbed a team-high seven boards.
“Alex Kendall did a real good job in the second half rebounding and posting up,” Secrest said. “If the young man keeps working, he’s going to be another option for us.
“Ely and A.J., they’ve been steady in the backcourt. Ely didn’t play much last year so he’s still learning on the fly. He’s been playing well. He got his offense going tonight. A.J.’s been solid with the ball. He shot off the dribble well tonight. (Zach) Bartlett got some good rebounds for us there.”
Harrison scored nine points for the Marauders, followed by seven from Ethan Stewart and six apiece from Morgan Roberts and Stanley.
Marietta is back in action Friday when it visits New Philadelphia to begin East Central Ohio League play.
“We had to have this one,” Secrest said. “We go to New Philly on Friday and that’s going to take everything we’ve got and a little extra.”
Jordan Holland can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.