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Saturday, January 8th, 2011

Flyers' defense the key to victory over Redskins

By Mark Ruschau

Marion Local's Craig Niekamp, 21, shoots over a St. Henry defender during their. . .

ST. HENRY - Coaches may change, but the one constant in the last 40 years for the Marion Local boys basketball program has been solid defense.
Prior to this season, the staple defense for the Flyers was the 2-3 matchup zone. With the arrival of first-year head coach Mark DeLaney, the number-one defensive option has changed to the man-to-man, but the intensity and the effectiveness has not changed.   
Just ask the St. Henry Redskins.
Friday night, the Flyers put on a clinic defensively and found just enough offense to drub the Redskins 59-42 in Midwest Athletic Conference play at the St. Henry Middle School.
The defensive domination by Marion Local (3-2 overall, 1-1 MAC) can be seen in the fact that St. Henry hit on just 14 of 38 from the floor, including just 1-of-10 from three-point range. The Flyers also did a great job on the glass, pulling down 31 rebounds to 29 for the Redskins, but more importantly, Marion Local allowed St. Henry just four offensive rebounds, which resulted in just four second-chance points.
One last number that showed the Flyers' defensive domination is that it took the Redskins 62 possessions to score 42 points. St. Henry also did not help itself at the free-throw line, converting just 13-of-20.
"I am very proud of the strides that this team has made, especially on the defensive end. Because, ultimately, that is where our heart is," said DeLaney. "I think we did a good job of limiting their dribble penetration and keeping their offense in front of us."
In the other locker room, St. Henry coach Eric Rosenbeck was left scratching his head again as his team's first half offensive struggles continued.
"Marion Local came out in the first five minutes of the game and really took it to us," said Rosenbeck. "They did exactly what we prepared for, we just did not handle it. We have to find a way to put the ball in the hole early in games. With us missing shots, it leads to fastbreaks the other way and then it put us in hole that we could not dig ourselves out of."
On the offensive end, Marion Local used a strong first-half performance to score 34 of its 59 points, building a 15-point lead at the half. In the first half, the Flyers connected on 12-of-23 shots, including 3-of-5 from three-point range.
Ryan Mescher led the way for the Flyers with 18 of his game-high 21 points in the first half. Ryan Berning chipped in seven first-half points.
"Ryan did a very good offensively in the first half for us," said DeLaney. "He did a great job of using his body, his size, weight and wing span to get himself some good looks. That is what we have been trying to teach the kids; how to read and react and not trying to be to rigid in what we our doing offensively. When we get into the heart of our schedule, we have to be able play good halfcourt offense and we showed some of that tonight."
Cory Siefring led St. Henry with 11 points.
St. Henry returns to action this evening as it travels to the Fieldhouse in Celina to take on the Bulldogs. Marion Local is also in action tonight on the road at Anna.
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