Jan 14, 2008 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Even at 11-0, the Marcellus boys basketball team knew that it had pulled off a series of close calls to remain unbeaten for that long and wondered how long the run would last.
The Mustangs’ long run of good fortune and better play ran out last Wednesday night, when Cazenovia came to town and changed up its defense, catching Marcellus off-guard and leading to a 62-49 defeat.
In a matter of five days, Bishop Ludden, Henninger and Marcellus had all suffered their first defeats of the season, leaving West Canada (the no. 1 team in the state Class C ranking) as Section III’s lone unbeaten squad.
Back in their first meeting on Nov. 27 at Buckley Gym, Marcellus had beaten Cazenovia 72-70, nearly blowing a big second-half lead before missed free throws in the final seconds allowed the Mustangs to escape.
Seeing the way the Mustangs burned his man-to-man defense, Lakers head coach Todd Widrick switched to a matchup zone for the rematch.
By crowding out the forwards and forcing Marcellus to take 3-pointers, Widrick gambled that the outside shots would not fall — and with the exception of Dan Heil converting five times from beyond the arc, that would be the case.
Cazenovia built a 31-27 halftime lead, then outscored Marcellus 16-9 in the third period. The Mustangs closed within six, 47-41, only to see Bryan Wight and Trent Widrick combine for a trio of 3-pointers that all but sealed the outcome.
Heil finished with 16 points, as Jeff Watson did the best work in the paint, earning 17 points, seven rebounds and four blocks. Will Fiacchi and Kyle Blackmer had six points apiece. Widrick, with 21 points, led an attack where Cody Ash had 14 points and Bryan Wight added 11 points.
What this did was put first place in the OHSL Liberty division on the line Saturday when Marcellus confronted defending Class B champion Hannibal in the Coaches vs. Cancer Challenge at LeMoyne College.
Here, the Mustangs’ struggles would continue, as the Warriors used its own smothering zone to pull clear in the second half and pull away, beating Marcellus 57-37.
Hannibal, a state Class B final four team in 2007, showed why it might go back there again, patiently waiting for its moment to strike, then doing so.
Neither side could develop much rhythm in the first half. Marcellus used man-to-man pressure to contain Hannibal, while the Warriors clogged up passing lanes and forced the Mustangs into outside shots that often didn’t find the target.
It turned around in the game’s middle stages. After Matt Fox hit on a 3-pointer midway through the second quarter to give his team a 17-14 lead, Marcellus did not score again for nearly nine minutes.
During that drought, Hannibal went on a 17-0 run to take charge. To its credit, Marcellus crept back within five, 34-29, early in the fourth quarter, but Hannibal answered with a 23-7 surge to erase any doubts.
Fox finished with 13 points, as Fiacchi added 12 points and Heil gained seven points. Hannibal’s star senior forward, Chad Burridge, torched Marcellus for 21 points to lead his side.
Marcellus (11-2) gets an immediate chance at payback against Hannibal — but must do so on the Warriors’ home floor Friday night, after a Wednesday home date with Bishop Grimes.