Marietta pulls back from Dover in Tiger Invitational | News, Sports, Work

Marietta’s Jaycee McKnight, left, drives the ball during Saturday’s game against Dover at Sutton Gym. (Photo by Mike Morrison)

Marietta turned up the pressure on defense to start the second half of Saturday night’s finale of the first annual Tiger Invite against Dover at Sutton Gymnasium, and that strategy paid huge dividends as the Tigers cruised to a 55-36 win.

Marietta forced eight Dover turnovers in the third period alone and outscored the Lady Tornadoes 11-3 to turn a close ball game into a double-digit lead.

“We threw a lot of things at people so it’s very hard to prepare for us,” second-year Tiger head coach Ryan McClain said. “They did a good job against our zone, but the girls really answered the call when we got going in the second half.”

Early on, it looked like the undefeated Tigers might just have their hands full with the former conference rival Tornadoes as Dover grabbed a 10-9 lead late in one quarter of play.

A pair of 3-pointers by Morgan Karam fueled Dover’s early success, while Ava Zobel accounted for their remaining four points.

The Tigers jumped out to a quick lead to open the second quarter thanks to a pair of free throws and a field goal by junior Alyssa Baker.

Back-to-back buckets by Zobel and Josee Werentz put the Tornadoes back in front, but it would be short-lived as Marietta jumped back in front after a pair of free throws by senior Livi Rinard and a field goal by Leigha Lauer.

Dover cut the lead back to back-to-back baskets by Zobel, but Tiger junior Jaycee McKnight recorded a 3-pointer and two points in a span of minutes as the Tigers began to open up a bit of a lead.

That lead reached eight thanks to another field goal by Lauer and a free throw by Baker, but Dover closed the half on a high note when Karam knocked down a 3-pointer to send the Tornadoes into the break trailing the Tigers 25-20.

After playing half-court zone defense for most of the first half, the Tigers began to put full-court pressure on Dover, and that sparked a 19-0 Marietta run that blew things wide open.

A three-pointer by senior Maddie Hogue late in the third started a Tiger run, and buckets by Lauer and senior Kenzley Urban extended the lead to 13 with three quarters left in the game.

Not only did the defense work, but the Tigers also came alive from beyond the arc as McKnight, Baker and senior Sailor Wharf knocked down 3-pointers in the first two minutes as the Tiger lead swelled to 46-23.

McClain got contributions from everyone as all 10 girls got significant minutes in the game and all 10 scored at least a point.

“We’re the type of team that can have a different leading scorer every night,” McClain said. “We have so much depth that it wears teams down and everyone is a capable scorer on our team.”

Dover chipped away at the Tiger lead a bit in the final quarter, but would never get closer than 17 points the rest of the way.

Lauer led the Tigers with 15 points, while Baker added 11 and McKnight nine.

Senior Aisya Burke scored seven points and tied for the team lead in rebounds with five.

The Tornaodes, who fell to an even 2-2 on the season, were led by Zobel with 17 points and Karam with 15.

McClain was quite pleased with the effort he got from his non-starters, including Urban, who he praised for her defensive effort, as well as Hogue, as the duo combined to limit Karam to just one 3-pointer in the second half after she connected with three in the first two quarters.

“Kenzli (Urban) hasn’t played in two years and is probably one of the best athletes in the school,” McClain said. “We kind of threw her into a close game and said sink or swim and she looked like Michael Phelps out there.”

The win improved the Tigers’ record to a perfect 7-0 with visiting Logan next on the agenda Thursday night.

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