Upset halted: Zanesville pulls away in 4th quarter to beat Marietta 57-37

Marietta gave undefeated Zanesville everything it wanted for three quarters Monday at Sutton Gymnasium.

The Blue Devils, ranked third in Ohio Division I, finally pulled away in the fourth quarter to leave town with a 57-37 East Central Ohio League victory.

The Tigers (9-10) trailed Zanesville 31-26 going into the final period, but the Blue Devils (19-0) scored 12 of the first 15 points in the fourth to put Marietta in a hole it couldn’t climb out of.

“Marietta was good in the first half. Very physical,” said Zanesville coach Scott Aronhalt.

“I thought the second half, though, about three minutes into the third, we kind of took over a little bit. I thought (Marietta) fatigued a little and we were able to make some plays.”

The Tigers played well for three quarters and had an upset on their minds with eight minutes to go. However, it was not to be.

“It didn’t feel like a 20-point loss,” said Marietta head coach Mark Duckworth.

“I thought we executed our gameplan very well. We were right where we wanted to be at halftime, right where we wanted to be at the end of the third quarter.”

Marietta’s defense held Zanesville to a 36.7 shooting percentage while going 15-for-34 (44 percent) from the floor. The Tigers, however, could not keep the Devils off the glass, as Zanesville out-rebounded Marietta 31-18. Zanesville also took better care of the basketball, forcing 17 MHS turnovers while coughing it up 10 times.

Perhaps the biggest key was foul shooting, as Zanesville produced 19 makes at the free throw line compared to seven for the Tigers. 13 of the Blue Devils’ foul shots came in the fourth quarter.

“Free throws were the Achilles’ heel,” Duckworth said. “The game got away from us at the free throw line. We missed ours, they made theirs.”

Down 6-2, a basket by Zach LaBarre and a jumper by Connor Beavers tied things up. Zanesville’s J.T. McFarland and Ramon Wilson combined for five straight points, but Braden Riley hit 2-of-2 at the line to cut it to 11-8 at the end of one.

It looked like the Blue Devils were off to the races in the second quarter as a 9-0 run stretched their lead to 20-8. The Tigers, though, countered with a 7-0 run to end the half and make it a 5-point game, 20-15. Riley scored six of the eight points during the stretch.

To open the second half, Marietta cut its deficit to one thanks to a layup by LaBarre off a nice pass from Riley and a jumper from Jonathan Wood. After a basket by Zanesville’s Thomas Wibbeler, Riley made a nice move to the hole on the other end to again make it a 1-point game, 22-21.

Six points by Wibbeler fueled an 8-0 run by Zanesville to stretch its lead to 29-21, but the Tigers answered with a free throw by Beavers and a basket by Riley. Zanesville’s Malik Bocook traded baskets with Wood to keep the margin at five going into the final stanza.

After a baseline jumper by Riley brought Marietta within three, 31-28, the Blue Devils scored seven unanswered to make it 38-28. After a Beavers free throw, Zanesville responded with five freebies to make the score 43-29. Marietta would trail by double digits the rest of the way.

Riley led all scorers with 16 points and added a team-high seven rebounds. Beavers chipped in with 10 markers and Wood posted seven.

“I’m proud of the effort tonight,” Duckworth said. “We battled. All of our guys battled tonight. I’m proud of the effort. That’s what I expect out of Marietta basketball.

“We’re battling and we’re getting better. That’s all I can ask of them.”

Zanesville was led by Bocook’s double-double, scoring 11 and grabbing 10 caroms. Wibbeler also tallied 11 markers while McFarland contributed 10.

The Tigers and Devils will see each other again at Zanesville Friday, but not before Marietta hosts Warren tonight at 7:30.