Sports Talk: Player’s ‘D’ impresses head coach

Dillon Sturm scored Marietta High’s first points shortly after the opening tip-off, and then never attempted a shot for the remainder of the game.

The 5-foot-11 senior was still an active participant at the defensive end of the floor, though, and according to first-year head coach Mark Duckworth, he was one of the reasons why the Tigers (1-0) defeated Claymont, 52-47, in a season and home basketball opener at Sutton Gym Tuesday night.

“I really liked the effort of Dillon Sturm on defense tonight,” Duckworth said. “Dillon was on three different guys in that game. He battled and gave us everything he had regardless of who he was guarding.”

Sparked by Sturm’s blue-collar, hard-nosed play, MHS limited Claymont (1-1) to just 13 field goals in the contest. You knew the Tigers overall were aggressive on defense due to the fact that the defending East Central Ohio League (ECOL) Gray champion Mustangs were spending a lot of time at the free-throw line (17 of 32).

One of the Claymont players who Sturm was shadowing was 6-1 Dylan Sterling, a first-team All-ECOL honoree last season. Sterling finished with 13 hard-earned points, eight of which came at the charity stripe.

With the scored tied at 20-20 at halftime, the offense picked up a little bit for both teams in the third quarter as Marietta outpointed Claymont 15-14. Thanks in part to Sturm, Sterling had no field goals in the stanza.

“That’s an all-league player that Dillon held down in that third quarter, and it really changed the momentum of the game for us,” Duckworth said.

No question about it, if you play good, tenacious defense, you can play for Duckworth, who appreciates all of a defensive player’s hard work. And, it is hard work, playing “D.”

But it’s also what helps win ballgames.

“Those are things you might not see in the box score,” Duckworth said. “My hat’s off to Dillon Sturm tonight for his defensive effort.”

Now, Marietta’s focus will be on the Zanesville basketball squad, which is scheduled to visit Sutton Gym Friday at 7:30 p.m. The Blue Devil football team just finished its season, dropping a 38-35 double overtime loss to Loveland in the Ohio Division II semifinals at Columbus DeSales last Friday night.

“We know Zanesville’s going to bring a nice package Friday, and we’ll do what we can to battle them,” Duckworth said. “They haven’t played yet. They were in the football playoffs. We know what they have from last year. We’ll do what we can to battle and make the adjustments through the game.”

Ron Johnston is the Marietta Times sports editor and can be reached at 376-5441 or at