The Spartan junior scored 19 points in a 71-65 win over Cardinal Mooney.
By GREG GULAS
BOARDMAN -- If the Boardman Spartan offense ever took a cue from its defense, the end result might be a frightening one to both the Spartans and their opponent.
Junior Matt Marks scored 19 points and hauled down seven rebounds to lead the Spartans to a come-from-behind 71-65 victory over Cardinal Mooney in Steel Valley Conference action Friday.
"It seems like we are always playing catch-up," Spartan coach Dan Gorski said. "We weren't patient in the first half and we definitely have to improve our shot selection."
The Cardinals (6-5, 0-3) led 17-14 after the first period on the strength of six points from Curtis Ingram. Eric Baldwin had eight points, including two goals from beyond the arc for the Spartans.
Mooney increased its lead to 30-20 on a Jeff Hehr bucket with 2:26 remaining in the opening half.
Marks and Jay Davis then scored four points apiece and the Spartans outscored the Cardinals 14-5 the remainder of the half, cutting Mooney's lead to 35-34 at intermission.
"We took too many quick shots tonight and committed too many costly turnovers," Mooney coach Nick Bellino said. "We faced their press tonight far more than I cared to. In the end, we were forced to foul them and they hit their free throws. That is what put the game away for them."
Quick start: The Cardinals went on a 12-7 run to start the second half, increasing their lead to 47-41. Mike Finamore's 3-point goal at the 1:24 mark of the third period gave the Spartans a 49-47 lead, which they would not relinquish.
Boardman increased its lead to 54-47 on a Mike DeOnofrio lay-up with 26 seconds remaining in the period. When Joe Burke hit a lay-up with eight seconds remaining, it broke a 3:09 scoring drought by the Cardinals, who trailed by five, 54-49, heading into the final frame.
"The defensive adjustments we made at halftime really helped us," Gorski noted. "Brian Weiser did an excellent job on the defensive end all night for us, but we needed to identify their press breaker.
"To work so hard defensively, then give it back so quickly with poor shot selection on the offensive end was hurting us," he said. "When we ironed that problem out, we began to play the type of game that I feel we are capable of playing."
On the line: With Marks scorching the nets for three 3-point goals and 15 of his game-high 19 points through the first 24 minutes, it came as a surprise that free throws would be the deciding factor in the final period for the Spartans.
Boardman scored just two goals in the final period, but canned 13 of 15 from the charity stripe, five from Michael Krieger, to secure the victory.
"Shooting 31 total free throws and 15 in the final quarter were both season highs for us," Gorski said. "Michael Krieger came up big for us on the free throw line in the last period. Having a deeper bench really helped us at crunch time as well."