MHS dunks Skins: Tigers down Coshocton to halt 4-game slide

With the 1978-79 team in attendance, the Marietta High basketball team honored one of the greatest classes in school history the best way it could – with a win.

Led by double-doubles from Braden Riley and Jonathan Wood, the Tigers took down Coshocton, 55-41, to snap a four-game losing streak.

It’s been nearly 35 years since the Ed Paxton-coached ’78-79 class won the Central Ohio League title. Paxton, now an assistant coach for Mark Duckworth and the Tigers, gave a speech before the varsity tip-off and reminisced briefly about some of his former players and fellow coaches, which seemed to motivate the current orange and black squad.

“I liked having them here,” Riley said. “There was a lot of emotions going around, so I’m really glad we got the win tonight.”

Marietta showed off its defense early in the game, holding the Redskins to just four points in the opening quarter and nine total in the first half.

Down 29-11 midway through the third quarter, Coshocton went on a 13-2 run to cut it to a 7-point game, 31-24.

Marietta answered with a basket by Riley and a 3-point play by Dillon Sturm to extend the lead to 12 going into the final quarter.

Riley opened the final period with a layup and a slam dunk before assisting Wood on a basket to put the Tigers ahead 42-24.

That was all the separation Marietta needed, improving its record to 5-6 overall and 3-5 in the East Central Ohio League.

“All in all, a good night for Marietta basketball,” Duckworth said. “Certainly something we can build on for the future.”

The Tigers shot over 50 percent in the game, going 22-for-42 from the floor, and held Coshocton to just 15-of-59 (25 percent.) MHS dominated on the glass with 41 rebounds, led by Wood’s 13. The Redskins collected 21 caroms, led by seven from Gavin Gray.

Marietta was aggressive in trying to get the ball to its post players. That aggressiveness was costly at times as the Tigers committed 26 turnovers. 15 of those miscues came in the second half and helped Coshocton get back in the game.

“We know where the ball has to go and sometimes we force it in there a little bit,” Duckworth said. “Their pressure hurt us a little bit at times. We’ve got to do a better job of taking care of the ball.”

Fortunately for the Tigers, a 22-9 halftime advantage was enough breathing room to help them withstand the late Redskins push.

“That cushion was really important because teams like Coshocton can always surprise you and go on a little run,” Riley said. “Having that cushion there was really helpful.”

Riley finished with a game-high 19 points and added 11 rebounds and seven blocks, coming up just shy of a triple-double. Wood contributed 13 points for the Tigers.

Connor Roahrig was the only Coshocton player in double figures with 13 markers.

Following the game, players from the ’78-79 team went down into the Marietta locker room to share wisdom and reflect on the glory days.

“I don’t think I could ask for anything more,” Duckworth said. “The class of ’79, COL champions, were here tonight.”

It goes down as just one victory in the standings for the Tigers, but it felt like more.

“It’s two wins on our home floor in front of a nice crowd,” Duckworth said. “It wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t perfect, but it’s a stepping stone. Couldn’t have asked for anything more.”

The Tigers will be back in action Sunday in the Route 40 Classic to take on the hosting Tornadoes. Tip-off is scheduled for 1 p.m. but is subject to change.