Marysville’s Garrett Tayler scores on a hook shot against Upper Arlington on Friday. (Journal-Tribune photo by Sam Dillon)
When two top-shelf basketball teams tangle, the outcome generally comes down to a handful of plays.
The Golden Bears of Upper Arlington made just enough plays and the Marysville Monarchs came up just short during a 55-46 UA win on Friday.
“It was just like when we beat them (57-55) earlier in the year at their place,” said Monarch head coach Ryan Grose. “The ball is going to bounce a couple of different ways.
“50/50 balls are important and both games came down to a loose ball here or there.”
The Monarchs’ setback really tightens the race for the Central Division championship of the Ohio Capital Conference.
Dublin Coffman defeated Central Crossing, 77-52, on Friday.
The Shamrocks (16-5 overall) lead the division with an 8-1 mark.
The only divisional loss so far this season for the Rocks is to Marysville (80-78) in December.
Marysville (11-8) and UA (12-8) are tied for second place with 7-2 records.
Coffman and Upper Arlington play next Friday on the Golden Bears’ floor to round out the regular season.
Upper Arlington is a team that likes to control the tempo on both sides of the court.
The Golden Bears will pass and pick an opponent’s defense to death.
UA’s defense generally does a solid job of closing down passing and driving lanes.
That, in turn, slows down what opponents want to do with the ball.
“We scrapped on both ends of the floor, especially on defense, tonight,” said Grose.
MHS’ offense started out slowly, as junior sharpshooter Jack Christian had trouble putting the ball into the basket.
UA scored the first six points of the night before Garrett Taylor got a semi-hook shot to fall for the Monarchs.
Christian scored his only point of the first half on a free throw that narrowed Upper Arlington’s lead to 6-5 with a little more than three minutes left to play in the period.
Joey Duke later drove through traffic in the lane and Taylor found a rare gap in the Bears’ defense.
Those baskets gave Marysville a 9-7 lead.
The upper hand didn’t last for long, though, as UA’s John Basil dropped in a long three to give the visitors’ a 10-9 edge.
The Monarchs stayed in step for the Golden Bears during much of the second quarter.
Taylor once again scored between defenders and hit another basket as MHS stayed with one and three points.
The problem was that whenever the Monarchs appeared to gain some traction, the Golden Bears had an answer.
Taylor pulled Marysville to within 18-15 when he scored on an assist from Noah Brown.
Both teams swapped possessions as the timer gasped its waning seconds.
Max Buckley then brought Golden Bear Nation to its feet when he buried a half-court trifecta for UA’s 21-15 halftime advantage.
The wraps came off Christian during the third quarter.
He sank a pair of charity tosses and threw down a pair of treys to narrow MHS’ deficit to 28-25.
Duke later followed suit on a three-ball that put Marysville down by just a 32-28 count.
“Our offense got better,” said Grose. “We moved and screen much better and Jack was able to hit some big shots.”
Christian converted a steal into a lay-up that pulled the Monarchs (who will travel to Mt. Vernon tonight) to within 34-30 by the end of the quarter.
Taylor scored on the offensive glass and Evan Brown burned the cords with a three-ball that kept the Monarchs within 39-35.
Buckley, however, responded with a trifecta that padded UA’s lead at 42-35.
Christian appeared as though he might just will the Monarchs to victory with his work on both ends of the floor.
He sank a free throw that narrowed MHS’ gap to 44-37 and then came up with a big steal.
Christian’s ensuing trifecta cut Marysville’s deficit to 44-40 with 2:38 left in the quarter.
Buckley scored on an offensive rebound, but Christian added his 18th and 19th points of the night.
In doing so, he pulled MHS to within 46-42.
Both teams committed critical turnovers over the next couple of minutes.
A traditional three-point play from Geoffrey Schoeny pushed UA out to a 49-42 margin with 49.3 seconds to play.
Another Monarch miscue led to Jack Purcell’s shot that made it a nine-point spread.
Taylor cut the Bears’ lead to 51-44 with 25.8 seconds to play.
Both teams were in the bonus and the Monarchs had to put the Golden Bears on the free throw line in order to regain possession.
UA hit four free throws down the stretch and padded its upper hand at 55-44.
Ryan Barlow scored a late consolation bucket for the Monarchs to end the game.
Buckley 6-1-15, Corna 4-6-14, Schoeny 4-1-10, Heath 3-0-7, Entenmann 2-0-4, Basil 1-0-3, Purcell 1-0-2. Totals 21-8-55.
Three-point goals: Buckley 2, Schoeny 1, Heath 1, Basil 1.
Christian 5-6-19, Taylor 7-0-14, E. Brown 2-0-5, Duke 2-0-5, Barlow 1-0-2, Schaeffer 0-1-1, Mills 0-0-0, N. Brown 0-0-0. Totals 17-7-45.
Three-point goals: Christian 3, E. Brown 1, Duke 1.
Marysville’s JV and freshmen squads split games with Upper Arlington
The reserves won, 37-28, as Isaac Tocci tallied 13 points.
Shawn Xie scored 11 points for the frosh during a 48-36 setback.
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