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Saturday, February 19th, 2011

Flyers slip past Cavs

By Randy Bruns

Marion Local's Craig Niekamp, left, shoots over Coldwater's Austin Bruns during. . .

MARIA STEIN - The Coldwater Cavaliers and the Marion Local Flyers continued their football rivalry on Friday night, but they did it on the hardwood instead of the gridiron.
The Flyers prevailed 49-44 in a slugfest that wasn't pretty but was at least competitive. The Cavaliers performed a third quarter metamorphosis that turned a yawner into a down and dirty struggle that the hosts didn't put on ice until the final minutes.
Marion improves to 12-7 overall and 5-3 in the Midwest Athletic Conference, while Coldwater falls to 4-14 on the year and 2-6 in league play.
The first quarter of this one set the tone for the night, with the two squads combining for 12 turnovers and shooting just 28 percent. The Cavaliers held a 10-9 advantage when the period came to an end, but the lead would prove to be short-lived.
The Flyers ramped up the defensive pressure in the second quarter, and the result was more turnovers by the Cavaliers. The visitors committed eight miscues in the second stanza and the hosts took full advantage, as Jesse Winner began to assert himself inside. The senior center scored eight points during a 14-0 run that put the Flyers firmly in command.
The Cavaliers finally scored their first point of the frame with 19 seconds left, but one was all they would get as the hosts took a 23-11 lead into the intermission.      
As bad as things got for Coldwater in the second quarter, it turned things around to start the second half. The visitors turned it over just once in the third quarter and quickly pulled themselves back in the game. Ross Wermert was the offensive catalyst, scoring seven points during a 12-2 run that tied the score at 30-apiece late in the period.
The Cavaliers completed their comeback early in the fourth when Austin Bruns nailed a three-pointer to give his team a 33-31 advantage, but the Flyers countered from the free-throw line. Adam Bertke connected on two straight freebies to force another tie, and Winner put the hosts back on top with another from the stripe.
Ryan Mescher later gave the Flyers some cushion with a steal and a bucket and then the senior rebounded a Bertke miss for another hoop. The result was a six-point bulge for the Flyers that would never be seriously threatened.
"(Turnovers) have been the story for us all year," said Coldwater coach Mike Bruns. "I told the guys after the game that if we want to get to the next level we've got to clean up that part of our game. Some of it had to do with (Marion's) defensive pressure but a lot of it is mental, because we make those mistakes in practice with no defense on us. A lot of it is confidence in handling the ball, and we've got to get rid of that fear of failure out there."
Marion coach Mark DeLaney was subdued in his postgame remarks.
"Our press was speeding them up and we were trying to get them to play the up-tempo game," said DeLaney. "Our half-court defense wasn't very good tonight so we just tried to get up and down to get some easy buckets. I don't think we played a very team-oriented game tonight, and we were trying to force a lot of penetration. When we get a lot of touches we have success, but when we try to enter it on one side the defense is set."
Winner paced the Flyers with 15 points and 13 rebounds, while Bruns scored a game-high 16 points for the Cavaliers.
Coldwater will host Wapakoneta tonight and St. John's next Friday, while Marion wraps up the regular season next Friday at Minster.
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