Foundation Game: Tigers top Raiders

There are several similarities in the basketball programs at Marietta High School and Morgan High heading into a brand new season on the hardwood.

Both teams have brand new head coaches, Mark Duckworth in Marietta and Adam Copeland in Morgan, and both teams are looking for rebound seasons after struggling in 2012-2013.

Friday night the two got a chance to go head-to-head with a taste of regular season atmosphere as the Tigers edged the visiting Raiders 42-34 in the exhibition Foundation Game at Sutton Gymnasium.

The Tigers outscored Morgan 14-5 in the third quarter to take an 11-point lead and then managed to fight off the resilient Raiders in the final period to claim the victory.

All proceeds from the game will benefit the start up of a Marietta Middle School baseball team.

The Tigers connected on just 33 percent of their shots (14-42) in the game but nonetheless their new head coach was pleased with the looks they were able to get.

“I was pleased with each possession as we were able to take the shots where we wanted to take them,” said Duckworth, the Marietta High School graduate who returns to his alma mater after a lengthy and successful career as junior varsity coach for the Warren Warriors.

“We didn’t make them all tonight but we are going to improve and over a period of time were going to get better and better.”

Both teams struggled to get the ball in the hoop in the opening quarter as Morgan led 5-1 after the first five minutes of play.

The orange and black got their first field goal of the game from junior Jesse Wharff to trim the lead to two and then grabbed their first lead of the night when Dillon Sturm drained a triple from beyond the top of the key.

Morgan got baskets from Marcus Dille and Marcus Mayle to jump back in front 9-8 after one period of play.

Six-foot five inch Tiger big man Braden Riley struggled to get the ball in the hoop in the first quarter but managed to score four points in the first five minutes of the second quarter and made a nice pass to fellow big man Jonathan Wood (6-5) for an inside score and a 17-11 Tiger lead.

Morgan finished the first half strong on four free throws from Marcus Mayle and Kade Mayle to trim the lead to 17-15 at intermission.

The game remained a one possession game for much of the third period before the Tigers offense finally showed some signs of life.

A pair of free throws by Riley started 10-0 run that left the Tigers ahead by 11 heading to the final eight minutes of play.

The Raiders quickly changed the momentum of the game in the final period as they put together an 8-0 run with six of those points coming from Marcus Mayle to trim the lead to three at 31-28.

“We wanted to make sure that we came out tonight and worked on our stuff that we are trying to put in and that our guys played hard,” said Copeland who takes over for Devin Barnhouse as head coach this season, “There was no doubt that our kids played hard and got us right back into the game.”

The Tigers got inside buckets from Riley and Wharff to edge their lead back out to seven at 35-28 but Josh Davis grabbed a rebound and put it back in to close the lead to five with three minutes to go in the game.

That would be as close as the Raiders would manage to get as a three-point play by Zach LaBarre once again made it an eight point Marietta lead and the Tigers managed to keep Morgan at arms length away the rest of the game.

Wood was the only Tiger player to reach double figures as he scored 10 points, while Riley totaled nine points and a game-high nine rebounds and LaBarre added a big eight points off of the bench.

“Zach LaBarre came off the bench and gave us a huge lift when we needed it,” said Duckworth of his junior guard, “We are a little short right now due to some injuries so we really needed a lift.”

Morgan was paced in scoring by Marcus Mayle with a game-high 13 points, while Davis added seven.

Duckworth feels his team needs to sharpen up a bit on the basics before they go live at home December 3 against Claymont.

“We will go back to practice and work quite a bit on the fundamentals,” said Duckworth. “We need to get better at screening, we need to get better at passing and we need to get better at dribbling and of course to be able to finish the play when we get it there.”

Morgan will open its season at home as well as it hosts River View on December 2.

In another Foundation Game Friday night in Vincent, Warren defeated Waterford 74-52.

Evan French, Reece Patton and Michael Hall paced the Warrior attack.