Colts clinch district playoff berth
Marian’s Tyler Fritz dribbles between Weatherly’s Mason Gerhart (10) and Elijah Derr (4). RON GOWER/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS
Never a doubt? Well not quite.
It took a little longer than Marian would have liked, but the bottom line is the Colts qualified for the District 11 playoffs with one game to spare.
Marian secured its postseason berth with a 67-49 Schuylkill League victory over Weatherly on Tuesday night.
Sweet, yes. Relief, yes.
Marian standout Tyler Fritz expressed both those sentiments after the game.
“We’re in the playoffs! That’s what we wanted, that’s what our goal was going into tonight,” said Fritz.
The Colts took control from the outset thanks mostly to the early play of Brandon Sabulsky, who helped lift his team to a 20-9 first-quarter lead.
Then the Colts got more good news as sharpshooter Chris Ritsick, who has been looking to find his long-range stroke, scored a game-high 26 points, drilling in eight triples in the process. He led a trio of double-digit scorers as Sabulsky scored 15 points and Tyler Fritz buried 14.
“Chris really stepped it up tonight and it couldn’t have come at a better time,” Marian head coach John Patton said.
The early storyline certainly belonged to Sabulsky when he poured in 10 first-quarter points, but had the cards reversed when he was saddled with three fouls before halftime. That didn’t sink the ship, as John Malarkey stepped in, and then Ritsick started to rain triples, with four through the first two quarters.
“I just made some little adjustments,” smiled Ritsick after the win about finding his shot. “I did a few things with my feet and put a little more (arc) on the shot.”
His shooting helped the Colts slingshot their way to a 26-11 lead at the onset of the second period. However, the Wreckers weren’t going away without a fight, as they made a charge to cut the lead to 26-22.
The Wreckers rally started when Mason Gerhart banged home a corner triple. Trevor Lowman came off the bench to muster a three-point play, Chad Obert picked off an errant Marian pass and scored, and Elijah Derr lit up the boisterous homecoming crowd with a trey.
“We got within (four) and I thought we had a lot going for us,” said Weatherly coach Corey Gerhart. “But they’re so darn tough. We didn’t defend (the trey) very well, and that’s been hurting us all season.”
The Colts (11-10, 6-6) quickly regained control as Sabulsky sank a bucket off a terrific assist from Fritz. Fritz and Ritsick then both drilled triples before Malarkey beat the buzzer for a deuce that stretched the lead to 37-27.
“Our defense was outstanding,” said Patton. “We forced a lot of mistakes by either cutting off the lanes, or making steals. Overall, it was the key for us.”
With Marian leading 41-27 in the third quarter, Weatherly went on a magic carpet ride, outscoring Marian 14-2, to cut the deficit to 43-40.
Marian never wavered, however, as Ritsick hit a pair of triples and the Colts gradually broke the game open to punch their ticket to the District 11 Class 2A dance.
SINKING BASKETS … The Colts shot 22-for-48, while Weatherly was 19-for-50. The Wreckers had 12 first-half turnovers and 17 on the night. Marian turned it over 13 times, and out-rebounded Weatherly 34-23. Fritz picked off nine boards and Sabulsky eight for Marian. Derr led Weatherly with seven.
NOT FORGOTTEN … The defensive effort by Ritsick was stellar on Weatherly’s leading scorer Scotty Zoscin. He held the terrific sophomore, who was averaging around 19 points a game, to seven points.
DOUBLE DIP … Marian won the JV contest, 40-29, led by Logan Fritz’s 18 points, Zach Hnat’s 12 and Chris Latoff’s 11. Weatherly’s top scorers were Frank Willis with 18 points and Ethan Broskoskie with 14.
Ritsick 8-2-3-26, Sabulsky 7-1-2-15, Fritz 3-7-8-14, Malarkey 1-3-4-5, L. Fritz 1-0-0-3, McCall 1-0-0-2, Goff 1-0-0-2, Hnat 0-0-0-0, Latoff 0-0-0-0, Rickert 0-0-0-0. TOTALS: 22-13-19-67.
Gerhart 5-0-0-12, Lowman 3-1-1-9, Derr 3-1-1-8, Zoscin 3-0-0-7, Colecio 2-1-2-5, Berger 2-0-0-4, Obert 1-0-0-2. TOTALS: 19-5-6-49.
Marian 20 17 14 16 - 67
Weatherly 9 16 13 9 - 49
Three-pointers: Marian - Ritsick 8, T. Fritz 1, L. Fritz 1; Weatherly - Gerhart 2, Lowman 2, Zoscin 1.