Prep boys basketball: Marietta High boys rout Belpre 74-45

Work the basketball inside to the twin towers and let them take it from there.

That has pretty much been the mission statement for Marietta head coach Mark Duckworth and his squad throughout the 2013-2014 basketball campaign.

Saturday night that strategy worked to perfection as the Tigers’ execution was nearly flawless as they rolled to a 74-45 non-conference victory over visiting Belpre High.

Braden Riley matched the number he wears on his Tiger uniform as the 6-foot-5 senior scored 33 points and four Tiger players dished out three assists or more as the Tigers jumped out to an early lead and then survived a third-quarter Belpre rally to even their season record at 8-8.

“We have preached team, team, team, team and that is the only way we are going to be successful,” said Duckworth of the victory. “What Braden did was fantastic, but he couldn’t have done it without all of his teammates. His teammates did what they had to do to get him the ball and he was just unguardable.”

Right from the start Riley and Jonathan Wood set the tone of the game as they scored 19-of-21 first period MHS points to give the orange and black a 21-11 advantage.

The Tigers built on that lead in the second quarter as they outscored the Eagles 14-5 to increase their lead to 19 with 1:15 to play in the half.

Brennen Ferrel’s basket on an assist from Hayden Plummer cut the lead to 17, but Tiger junior Corey Hill drilled his second triple of the quarter to send Marietta to the locker room up by 20 at 38-18.

After missing some time early in the season due to injury, Hill seems to be excelling in his role as the first man off the bench in Duckworth’s rotation.

“We got a very nice lift off of the bench from Corey Hill again tonight,’ said Duckworth of Hill, who connected on three treys in the game.

“He’s worked really hard to get his conditioning to where it needs to be and he can be a real weapon.”

Belpre came out strong in the second half as the Golden Eagles scored 15 of the first 20 points of the third quarter to cut the Tiger lead in half at 43-33 with three minutes to play.

“We knew Belpre would come out with some kind of press and trap and try to make a run at us,” said Duckworth. “We didn’t handle it very well at first but we were able to get settled down.”

Hill’s third three-pointer of the game increased the lead to 15 and Plummer and Riley traded baskets to close out the third period with the Tigers in front 52-37.

Marietta shot 64 percent from the floor in the game (32-50) including a blistering 17-of-23 in the second half (73.9 percent) and Riley finished as strong as he started as he made all six fourth quarter field goal attempts as the Tigers outscored the Eagles 22-8 in the final period to secure the win.

Riley actually missed more free throws than he did field goals as he shot a white hot 16-of-19 from the floor while connecting on just one-of-five attempts from the charity stripe.

The Tigers completely dominated the battle of the boards as they hauled down 41 rebounds compared to just 16 for the Jordan Thornhill-led Golden Eagles.

Riley and Wood both completed double-doubles as Riley grabbed 12 rebounds to go along with his 33 points, while Wood finished with 13 points and a game-high 14 boards.

Hill contributed 20 points off of the bench while Zach LaBarre and Connor Beavers dished out four assists apiece for he winners.

Nick Therriault scored 12 of his 16 points for Belpre in the second half while Ferrell finished with a dozen.

The (8-8) Tigers will have their senior night Tuesday when they welcome the Frontier Cougars to Sutton Gymnasium, while Belpre (6-9) will play host to Federal Hocking in a Tri-Valley Conference contest.