A lot at stake: Marietta hosts regional runnerup New Philly tonight

Marietta High’s boys’ basketball team enjoyed a winning December, posting a 4-2 overall record.

The Mark Duckworth-coached Tigers are hoping that trend continues in the New Year when they host New Philadelphia High in an East Central Ohio League tilt at Sutton Gym at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

The Chad Spurgeon-led Quakers (5-4) are expected to be a challenge as they have many of the same players back from last season’s team that defeated MHS, 73-54, at Sutton.

Marietta closed out the 2013 portion of its slate with a 60-59 triumph at Belpre High (4-4) last Saturday night. Six-foot-five senior Braden Riley paced the Tigers with a game-high 25 points. Dillon Sturm added 11, and Corey Hill chipped in with 10.

Some other orange and black cagers who figure to see court action against NPHS will be 6-6 Jon Wood, Zach LaBarre, Garrett Bertram, Connor Beavers, Adam Gearhart, and John Henry.

Marietta has had a height advantage against opponents in the early going of its season, but New Philadelphia matches up well in the frontcourt with 6-6 Ethan Boose and 6-5 Marco Columbo, who also happen to be two of the team’s top scorers.

While Duckworth is in his first year at the Tiger helm, he’s very familiar with New Philly. Last season, as a Warren assistant, he was on the sideline when the Warriors defeated the Quakers, 49-47, in dramatic fashion in a regional final at the Ohio University Convocation Center in Athens.

At first glance this winter, New Philadelphia looks like a .500 ballclub. But the Quakers have played some pretty rugged competition in Canton McKinley and Dover. Last weekend, the red and black hosted The Barnett Realtors Holiday Classic, and defeated West Holmes, 67-55, and Cincinnati St. Xavier, 44-42, in a game that saw a dozen lead changes and four ties.

Some other Quakers to keep an eye on will be Braden Young, Dylan Hagan, and Caleb Beans.

Also in boys’ action tonight, Warren (5-3) plays at Jackson in a Southeastern Ohio Athletic League (SEOAL) game; Tyler Consolidated is at Williamstown (4-1); Fort Frye travels to Buckeye Trail; Waterford hosts Trimble; Southern is at Belpre; John Glenn is at Morgan; Monroe Central entertains Caldwell; and Wood County Christian faces East Richland Christian at OU-Belmont.

On the girls’ side, Parkersburg Catholic hosts Williamstown.