Prep Boys Basketball: Marion Local size seizes district title against Arlington

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Arlington’s Andrew Hunter, left, drives into the lane against Marion Local’s Luke Knapke during Friday night’s Division IV district boys basketball final at Wapakoneta. The Flyers advanced to next week’s regional tournament with a 44-34 win. (Photo by Matthias Leguire)

By MICHAEL BURWELL
STAFF WRITER
WAPAKONETA — To say that Marion Local’s height advantage caused problems for Arlington’s offense in Friday’s Division IV district final would be a huge understatement.
Huge, literally.
The Flyers’ zone defense stymied the Red Devils into 21 percent shooting as Marion Local advanced to the regional semifinals with a 44-34 win at Wapakoneta High School.
Marion Local (21-5) will face Russia on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. at Kettering Fairmont High School. Arlington’s season ends at 19-5.
Marion Local’s Luke Knapke (6-foot-10), Ryan Bruns (6-7) and Adam Bertke (6-6), who are all starters and taller than Arlington’s tallest player (Blake Courtney, 6-5), gave the Red Devils’ offense fits.
Arlington shot 10 of 48 from the floor, including 5 of 26 (19 percent) from 3-point range. The Red Devils’ first field goal came on a bucket by Courtney with 5:31 left in the second quarter to cut Marion Local’s lead to 9-8.
“Once we swatted a few shots, they were pretty perimeter oriented, and we were able to match up on their shooters for the most part,” Marion Local coach Kurt Goettemoeller said. “They hit a couple 3s, but I challenged our kids before the game that our defense had to win us this game, and they did tonight.”
Whether it was Marion Local blocking or altering Arlington’s shots, the Flyers’ zone defense allowed just eight points in the paint and forced as many turnovers (10) as field goals (10).
“Their length was a huge factor for us,” Arlington coach Jason Vermillion said. “It started early on.
“That starts changing your shots and your mindset when you’re catching it in there and you’re just anticipating the length coming.”
Marion Local had its own problems offensively, though. The Flyers shot 6 of 18 (33 percent) from the floor in the first half, were outrebounded 12-8, and turned the ball over six times in the first quarter.
“We weren’t very good offensively again tonight, but we did just enough to win the game,” Goettemoeller said.
Despite its struggles, the Flyers headed into halftime with an 18-13 lead after outscoring Arlington 11-7 in the second quarter.
The shooting of 6-foot senior guard Cole Griesdorn jump started the Flyers’ offense. He scored 10 of his game-high 19 points in the third quarter, including three 3-pointers.
His trey from the corner gave Marion Local a 29-21 lead with 2:13 left in the third quarter, the Flyers’ largest up to that point.
“The other guys did a good job finding me, so I give the credit to them because they got a lot of assists for me,” Griesdorn said.
Arlington was able to hang with the Flyers in the third quarter with the help of four 3-pointers; two from Ryan McDowell and one each from Andrew Hunter and Jordan Freed. McDowell’s 3-ball off an assist from Hunter cut Marion Local’s lead to 29-27 with 42 seconds left.
After several turnovers by both teams to start the fourth quarter, Knapke’s height gave the Flyers the cushion it needed.
His tip in off of Bruns’ miss gave Marion Local a 36-29 advantage with 2:48 left. After Hunter hit 1 of 2 free throws on the Red Devils’ next possession, Knapke came right back with another tip in off of Griesdorn’s miss to give the Flyers a 38-30 lead with 2:31 to play.
From there, the Flyers were 6 of 9 from the foul line to extend their lead to 44-32 with less than a minute remaining.
Knapke scored 11 points and grabbed five rebounds for the Flyers while playing with a broken finger on his left hand. Bruns and Bertke combined for 12 points and eight rebounds, and Bruns’ four blocks led the Flyers.
Hunter’s 12 points led Arlington, and McDowell had eight.
ARLINGTON (19-5)
McDowell 3-0–9, Hunter 3-5–12, Freed 1-2–5, Blunk 1-2–4, Courtney 2-0–4, Durliat 0-0–0, Babb 0-0–0, Coleman 0-0–0, Starr 0-0–0, Glick 0-0–0, Speyer 0-0–0. TOTALS: 10-48 9-10–34.
MARION LOCAL (21-5)
Rethman 0-2–2, Griesdorn 5-5–19, Bruns 1-4–6, Knapke 5-1–11, Bertke 3-0–6, T. Homan 0-0–0, K. Homan 0-0–0, Nagel 0-0–0, Seitz 0-0–0, Mescher 0-0–0, Brunswick 0-0–0, Schwieterman 0-0–0. TOTALS: 14-38 12-17–44.
Arlington 6 7 14 7 — 34
Marion Local 7 11 14 12 — 44
3-POINT GOALS: Arlington 5-26 (McDowell 3, Hunter & Freed 1); Marion Local 4-12 (Griesdorn 4).
REBOUNDS: Arlington 23 (Courtney 6); Marion Local 21 (Knapke 5).
TURNOVERS: Arlington 10; Marion Local 12.



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