Tigers sweep: Riley’s 25 points sparks MHS to win over Tornadoes

ZANESVILLE -Braden Riley scored 17 of his game-high 25 points in the second half as Marietta High broke open a close ballgame and went on to a 60-39 win over West Muskingum Sunday in the Route 40 Classic.

Riley scored 10 points in the third quarter alone as the Tigers turned a four- point half-time lead into a 16-point advantage thanks to a 14-2 run to open the second half.

“I thought our defense picked up very good in the second half,” said first- year Tiger head coach Mark Duckworth. “Our guards were able to handle the pressure they (WM) brought in the second half. We were able to get Braden Riley to the middle of the floor and that helped us beat that pressure and get some easy baskets.”

Tiger swing man Zach LaBarre made his second consecutive start for the orange and black and the 6-foot-2 junior delivered in a big way as he scored six points and grabbed five rebounds in the first eight minutes to help MHS pull out to a 13-7 lead after one quarter of play.

Duckworth has been looking for someone to step up and was pleased with the production he got from LaBarre.

“Zach has worked and practiced like crazy and he earned the chance to start the last couple of games,” said Duckworth of LaBarre, who joined Riley and Jonathan Wood in the Tiger front court. “He’s getting better and better and good things happen when you work as hard as Zach does.”

The Tigers threatened to blow things wide open in the second quarter as they scored seven of the first 11 points to increase their lead to nine at 20-9.

The Tornadoes came charging right back thanks to the long-range shooting of Seth Migron and Coltin Pickrell, who both drilled a pair of triples late into the second period.

A steal and a basket by Pickrell tied the score at 22-22 with a minute to play.

Riley answered with a strong move to the basket on an assist from LaBarre, and a pair of freebies by Wood enabled the Tigers to head to the locker room clinging to a four-point lead at 26-22.

Tiger guard Dillon Sturm got the second half going in a positive way for Marietta with a three-ball and after Drew McKenzie got a pair of those points back with an offensive rebound and a basket, the Tigers began to kick things into high gear.

Riley and LaBarre traded inside buckets with assists to each other to increase the lead to nine before Riley drained a pair of 15-foot jumpers to make it a 37-24 game half way through the third period.

“When Braden (Riley) is able to make a few of those short jumpers, it just really opens things up for us offensively,” said Duckworth of his 6-5 big man. “You can see the chemistry between our big guys getting better and better all the time.”

Sturm capped the 11-0 MHS run with his second triple of the quarter to push the lead to 40-24.

West Muskingum put together five unanswered points, all but one of them coming from Pickrell to close the lead to 11, but Riley finished the quarter with back-to-back field goals to send the game to its final eight minutes with the Tigers leading by 15.

That would be as close as the Tornadoes would get as the Tigers out scored them 16-8 in the final period to claim their second straight victory and get their record back to the .500 mark at 6-6. In addition to his 25 points, Riley grabbed seven rebounds while dishing out five assists. “We are working really hard and are just improving game by game,” said the Tiger senior.

Wood finished with a game-high 14 rebounds to go along with seven points, while LaBarre totaled 12 points, eight rebounds and five assists. “I thought we really played with some good team chemistry today,” said LaBarre. “We worked the ball around and did all the basics and I think we are making steps and it’s showing on the court.”

Pickrell led the way for West Muskingum (1-14) with 16 points while Migron finished in double figures with 13.

Next up for the Tigers is a very tough East Central League match up when they host the state-ranked Zanesville Blue Devils on Tuesday night.