There was no answer for Trevor Gardner Friday night in McDonald Gymnasium.
The senior guard scored the first seven points for visiting Dryden High, but Marathon Central weathered that first half storm.
When Gardner started equally strong in the second half, his Purple Lions took the wind out of the Olympians sails and pulled away for a convincing 70-42 Interscholastic Athletic Conference North Division basketball victory.
Gardner finished with a game-high 29 points and really directed the Purple Lions well on the floor all night. Wes Stahlman added 15 points and Nick Hollister chipped in with 13 points as the Purple Lions improve to 2-2 overall.
“We came out strong, but Marathon did weather that storm in the first half,” Gardner said. “We didn’t play with a lot of urgency in that second quarter. We focused on that at halftime and came out playing a lot harder in the third quarter. We played faster and took control of the game.
“We don’t have a lot of size so we have to use our quickness,” he added.. “We executed our fastbreak well tonight. We did get some balanced scoring as well from guys like Nick and Wes.”
Gardner drove the lane for the first four points before hitting a 3-pointer for that quick 7-0 lead. Marathon (0-4) tied the game at 7-7 on buckets by Jadan Burke and Jack Tillotson that sandwiched a trey by Michael Hoyt. The Purple Lions led 11-7 at the end of the quarter.
The second quarter saw two more ties and two lead changes.
Tillotson gave Marathon a 17-15 lead with 6:23 left in the half before Stahlman knotted the score at 19-19 with 4:37 to go. A steal and lay-up by Michael Yuz’vak 25 seconds later put Dryden in the lead for good at 21-19 and the Purple Lions will enjoy a 25-21 cushion at
THE GAME CHANGED in the third quarter as Dryden scored 23 points built a 48-32 advantage. Gardner scored nine of his team’s first 11 points in the quarter as the Purple Lions lead grew to 36-25. It was two more Gardner lay-ups and a lay-up by Nick Montesano near the end of the quarter that got the margin to 47-30.
Dryden was playing with intensity and Marathon lost any momentum it had going into halftime by allowing Dryden to control the pace of play. The Olympians intensity was missing in the second half.
“That’s what happened in Oxford and that’s what happened in Newfield,” Marathon coach Jim Holland said, referring to two previous setbacks. “We’re young and we don’t respond well to adversity.
“We didn’t play good team defense tonight,” he added. “Too many easy lay-ups. Gardner would drive the and there were no switches. We did do things like making switches in the first half, but we stopped doing it in the second half.”
“We really are a good third quarter team,” Dryden coach Eric Hicks said. “We made some minor adjustments at halftime.Trevor and Wes make a few adjustments with me at halftime and we played much better.
“We took care of the ball better in the third quarter,” he continued. “We had nine turnovers in the first half, but we took better care of the basketball in the second half. That helped us get some good looks.”
THE PURPLE LIONS began the fourth quarter with an 8-0 run and continued to widen the gap.
Marathon got 11 points each from Tillotson and Burke for the game.
This is a different make-up for Dryden after the height advantage the Purple Lions enjoyed during the Kim Brown-coached Ali Abel-Ferretti years, but Hicks and his two leaders, Gardner and Stahlman have adjusted.
“We’re small, we’re quick,” Hicks said. “We’re going to run when we can, therefore we can get some lay-ups. It’s great leadership on the floor. Our point guard makes great decisions. He’s a fantastic player and a good kid. He will takes as far as we can go. We will work the ball around and run when we can.
“Tonight it was nice to get everyone in the game,” he added. “We got the young kids in. They bench guys work their butts off in practice and it was a chance to get them some minutes and some confidence.”
“It has been a big change for me,” Gardner said. “I was with Coach Brown and Ali for four years. It is a whole new world this year, but we have taken it as a challenge. We are playing a different style of ball now. We are spreading things out more and I’m enjoying it. Coach Hicks does want me and Wes to create opportunities on offense. We can score or we can get the ball to the right guy. Coach wants us to use some creativity.”
Dryden will host Groton Tuesday night with JV action starting at 5:30 p.m. Marathon will travel to Moravia Tuesday. JV action tips off at 5:30 p.m.