By MARK RUSCHAU
MARIA STEIN — The Marion Local Flyers and their archrival,
the St. Henry Redskins, met for the 152nd time Friday night
at the Hangar in Maria Stein and for the 110th time in the series,
the ’Skins took home the bragging rights, downing the
Flyers 56-42 in Midwest Athletic Conference play.
St. Henry improves to 6-1 in conference play and and 13-4 overall
while Marion Local falls to 8-7 overall and 2-5 in league play.
St. Henry used a solid second-half defensive effort to pull
away after leading by just four at the half. In the second half,
Marion collected just five field goals in 23 attempts, including
just one-of-nine in the third period.
“I thought we played hard,” said Marion coach Keith
Westrick. “Some of the little break downs that have haunted
us in the past crept into this game and killed us.”
The Redskins’ solid defensive play actually began late
in the half after Marion Local took a 24-22 lead. St. Henry
scored the last five points of the half on a baseline jumper
from Nate Stahl and a three-point field goal from Bryan Post
to take a 27-24 lead into the locker room at the intermission.
Marion Local cut the deficit to to one, 27-26, on a basket by
Russell Moeller on the Flyers’ first possession of the
second half. Moeller’s bucket was to be the last points
for the home team for their next six trips, which allowed St.
Henry to gain a little more separation as they scored seven
straight points to take a 34-26 lead with 3:14 left in the quarter.
Nate Stahl scored all seven points on a steal and lay-in, a
three-point field goal and another steal and lay-in, forcing
the Flyers to call timeout.
On the evening, Stahl had a well-rounded game as he led the
team in scoring with 22 points, added three rebounds, five assists
and four steals.
“I thought Nate had a great overall game,” said
St. Henry coach Joe Niekamp. “He had 22 points but he
also had several assists and made several steals. Nate has been
playing well of late and he stepped things up again tonight.”
After two free throws by Marion Local’s Cory Luebke, Stahl
hit from the baseline and found Steve Sutter for a conventional
three-point play which rebuilt the Redskins lead to 39-28 with
two minutes left in the third before settling for a 43-32 lead
after three quarters.
“I thought we were selective at times offensively but
you just can’t instantly have an offense against that
zone,” said Niekamp. “We thought we had to be a
little more patient tonight and take some time and we did that
at times and other times we got in a hurry and that hurt us.”
A basket by Sutter gave the ‘Skins their largest lead
of the night, 45-32 with 7:25 left in the game.
Marion Local wasn’t about to go quietly, however, as the
Flyers outscored the Redskins 7-1 to close to within seven,
46-39, on a lay-in by Russell Moeller with 2:44 left.
After a free throw apiece by Stahl and Sutter gave the Redskins
a 48-39 with 2:12 left, Russell Moeller canned a three to cut
the lead to six, 48-42 with two minutes left.
St. Henry quickly regained control as it scored the games last
eight points as Stahl hit three-of-four free throws and added
a field goal and Post added two free throws while Sutter added
one free toss to seal the deal.
In addition to Stahl’s great game, Sutter added 17 points
and a team-high nine rebounds. Luebke lead Marion Local with
12 points and Russell Moeller chipped in 11.
Marion Local is back in action tonight as it plays host to Arcanum
while St. Henry returns to action tonight as well, traveling
to Van Wert.