March 11, 2013
Marauders put end to Marathon magic
ONEONTA — There was some early hope that Marathon Central’s post-season upset run might continue on the Dewar Arena basketball hardwood at SUNY Oneonta Saturday.
Despite shooting just 20 percent (2-for-10) from the field, the Section 4 champion Olympians were deadlocked with powerful Section 3 champion New York Mills at 9-9 with 1:17 left in the first quarter. That’s when the next three minutes really decided the outcome of this New York State Public High School Athletic Association Class D quarterfinal boys’ contest.
Marauder guard Nick Comenale came up with a steal that started a 13-0 run that carried over two minutes into the second quarter. That outburst helped to propel the third-ranked Class D team in the state to a 70-57 victory over Marathon and a trip to this coming weekend’s Final Four in Glens Falls.
Comenale scored seven of those points while 6-foot-4 senior teammate Cody Mariotti and 6-5 senior Jake Kehrli controlled the offensive and defensive boards.
Comenale, a 6-2 junior, recorded 13 second-quarter points and 22 for the game to go with 10 steals and five rebounds. He was not only his usual self on the offensive side, but a key to derailing the Olympian offense in the first half.
“We watched some film on them,” Comenale said of his instinctual reaction to steal passes. “We had a good idea what they were trying to do. It really comes down to being able to read the guy’s eyes and try to get to the ball quickly and get the steal.
“We are tall and we cover at lot of the court with our length,” he added. “We can get out on the break quickly when we get the steals and the rebounds. That’s what really sets up our offense. That’s what really makes us successful.”
“Nick’s a basketball player,” said New York Mills coach Mike Adey. “A lot of people think he is just a shooter, which he is, but he is also an all-around basketball player. He is a student of the game.”
NEW YORK MILLS (20-3) did a good job of limiting the offensive chances of Marathon’s Kody Barry throughout the game and got big man Jeff Contri into early foul trouble with a pair of first-quarter fouls.
“We knew we were bigger, taller, than them so we had to out-rebound them,” Adey said. “We had to contain No. 30 (Contri) and their guard (Barry). We also had to run a good offense and get out to a lead quickly. We did all three.”
The final rebounding numbers were nearly even, but New York Mills took control early thanks to 13 offensive rebounds.
Barry did connect on an early jumper to tie the game at 2-2 and made all three free throws after being fouled on a 3-point shot attempt for a 7-2 Marathon lead. In between those points, Tyler Hoellerer got a nice driving basket to aid the Olympians cause.
Barry overcame a 1-for-5 first-half shooting effort by hitting 5-of-10 attempts in the second half to finish with 19 points.
Kehrli and 6-5 junior Zach Vennaro were strong inside and the Marauders went to the paint successfully. Vennaro scored twice on drives to the hoop and Kehrli hit a short jumper to give New York Mills an 8-7 lead with two minutes left in the opening quarter.
Marathon (10-13) took its final lead of the game at 9-8 after two Dan Lincoln free throws. With Barry and Contri limited in the first half, Lincoln delivered six points and Hoellerer netted four points, but the Marauders were too tough.
ANDREW SUPRENANT began that fateful 13-0 run with a 3-pointer and Comenale closed out the quarter with a jumper for a 14-9 advantage.
Mariotti, who finished with 19 points and nine rebounds, began the second quarter with a free throw before Comenale buried a 3-pointer and scored on a lay-up after a steal for a 20-9 cushion. Mariotti completed the run with a bunny in the paint.
“Cody has been a good player for us all year long,” Adey said. “He gets overlooked a little because of what the other kids do sometimes. He is good inside and there have not been a lot of teams that can control him inside because of his quickness.”
Marathon’s Zach Brandstadt stopped the run with a 3-pointer from the right wing off a Hoellerer pass, but New York Mills answered with another 6-0 run and a 28-12 lead midway through the second quarter.
The teams traded points to conclude the half as the Marauders led 37-20. Marathon made just 6-of-22 shots in the half while New York Mills was 13-for-30. The Olympians did shoot better in the second half, making 15-for-31 tries. The Marauders were 12-for-22 from the field in the second half.
“We shot horrendous in the first half,” Marathon coach Jim Holland said. “We got scared. Their defense scared us. Their length sacred us. Give them a lot of great though, they are a very good team.
“We still scored points and finished close to what we usually score,” he added. “We just gave up too many points defensively.”
MOST OF THE second half saw New York Mills on cruise control. The Marauders biggest lead, 51-31, came with 1:50 left in the third quarter when Suprenant nailed a 3-pointer from the corner. Suprenant netted 11 points in the contest.
In true Olympian fashion, Marathon’s boys didn’t quit and threw a small scare into the Marauders. Trailing 64-47, Brandstadt buried a 3-pointer and Barry scored on a lay-up after a Contri block and rebound to cut the deficit to 64-52 with 4:05 to go.
After Vennaro made one free throw, Barry connect for three from the right wing and Marathon trailed 65-55 with 2:27 left. That would be a close as the Olympians would get and time would run out on a great post-season run.
“They did make a little run,” Adey said. “We just called a couple of time-outs to get refocused. You do get a little nervous when it gets late and you know Glens Falls is within your reach. We just had to calm the guys down a bit.”
Lincoln had a good overall effort for Marathon with 12 points, four steals and three rebounds. Hoellerer capped his career with eight points and 11 rebounds. Contri scored nine points, all in the second half, and grabbed three rebounds.
“It was a great way for the seniors to end their career with a sectional title,” Holland said, Marathon pulling off that accomplishment as the 10th seed in Section 4. “They all deserve their due for what we have accomplished this season. We didn’t shoot well today, but the guys did give it their all. We did give them a scare at the end. We’ve had our moments this season, but to get this far was a great reward for all the guys.”
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