Sectional boys basketball: MHS boys squander lead, game

LOGAN – The Marietta Tigers seemed to be in control in a sectional tournament against New Lexington Tuesday night, but the Panthers were able to rally in the final period to leave Logan High School with a 46-44 win.

The Tigers led 40-32 going into the fourth, but New Lex used a 14-4 final stanza to claim the victory.

Braden Riley opened the fourth with a free throw, but Collin Russell and Ethan Kunkler combined for nine straight points to tie the game at 41-41.

After a free throw by Corey Hill, Reid Chwalek made a nice take to the basket to give Marietta a three-point lead. New Lexington’s Tyler Jones quickly answered with a 3-pointer to tie it up.

With 38 seconds left in the game, Marietta had the ball but turned it over, and Tommy Russell made them pay with the deciding bucket that gave the Panthers the lead for good. The Tigers had a final look as time expired, but were able to capitalize.

“You’re not gonna win any tournament games when you only score four points in the fourth quarter and go 6-of-14 from the foul line,” said Marietta head coach J.D. Secrest. “That makes it tough. We panicked a good bit there in the fourth quarter.

“The kids played hard for 32 minutes. We got ourselves in a position there at the end to maybe win or go into overtime and it just didn’t fall.”

Marietta’s Hill had a game-high 15 points. Chwalek had 11 and Braden Riley added nine for the Tigers. The Panthers were led by Collin Russell’s 14 points. Jones contributed 12 on four 3-pointers and Kunkler also hit double figures with 10.

With the win, the Panthers improved to 9-14 on the season and will advance to the sectional final on Saturday against Warren. Marietta’s season is over with loss. The Tigers finished the 2012-13 campaign 7-16.

Collin Russell opened up the scoring with a 3-pointer for New Lex. After Adam McKnight hit a layup, the Panthers ran their lead to 8-4. Hill then hit a 3-pointer followed by a layup from Jonathan Wood to give the Tigers their first lead of the contest at 9-8. Hill then traded buckets with Kunkler to close the quarter at 11-10 in Marietta’s favor.

It was raining 3s in the second quarter. Jones connected on two treys early in the period to give the Panthers a 16-12 advantage. Riley made a jumper but was quickly countered by a Nick Saxton layup to keep the New Lex lead at four points.

After buckets by Chwalek and Hill tied the game at 18-18, Chwalek and Hill struck again on back-to-back 3-pointers, both assisted by Cameron Benson, to give Marietta a 24-18 lead. Jones immediately hit a 3-ball of his own in the other side of the court to cut the deficit in half, but Chwalek then scored four straight points to give the Tigers a 28-21 lead at the end of the half.

Marietta maintained its lead through the third quarter. Riley opened the second half with a bucket before New Lex scored five straight points to cut it to 30-26. Hill responded with a pair of free throws and then Wood made a layup to extend it to 34-26. Two baskets by Russell brought the Panthers closer before consecutive buckets by Riley and John Henry made it a 10-point game. Saxton recorded a steal and connected on a layup to cut it to 40-32 going into the fourth quarter.

The Tigers outshot the Panthers 38 percent (17-for-45) to 32 percent (17-for-53) and won the battle on the boards 35-26, but New Lexington took better care of the ball, committing six turnovers to Marietta’s 12.

It was the final high school basketball game for Tiger seniors Benson, Chwalek, Derek Amrine and Ethan Strauss. Jordan Satterfield, who did not play due to injury, will also graduate in the spring.

“Next year we don’t have many excuses,” Secrest said. “We’ve got eight returning letterman. We’ve got as much experience coming back as anybody else. These guys, if they put the time in this summer, can turn the ship around.”