In a nonleague showdown between the No. 3 and 4 seeds in the upcoming Division I Central District girls tournament, Marysville stymied Olentangy Liberty and used three key mini-runs to prevail. Liberty won the boys game in a rout, however.
Powell, OH – It took four minutes and 10 seconds for the Marysville girls basketball team to get on the board in a nonleague showdown at Olentangy Liberty Saturday night.
The sluggish start didn’t bother Monarchs coach Klarke Ransome one bit, especially since the opponent wasn’t exactly lighting it up either.
“Good teams find ways to win whether things are going well or not … whether you’re making shots or not,” he said. “I can say this much: Defensively, we were really good tonight and that’s what we hang our hats on.”
And, yes, Marysville is a very good team, as evidenced by a 39-27 beatdown of Liberty in a game that could well be run back in a few weeks with a district or regional championship trophies on the line.
The Monarchs will be third-seeded and the Patriots fourth-seeded when Division I district coaches converge Sunday for bracket placement. Defending regional champion Pickerington Central earned the No. 1 seed and Olentangy was second seed as dictated by the MaxPreps RPI system being used statewide for the first time.
Seventh-ranked in the latest Associated Press state poll, Marysville (18-3) put together two 7-0 runs in the first half and capped a 9-0 run early in the fourth quarter to pull away from Liberty (15-5), which already had clinched its second straight Ohio Capital Conference Central Division championship.
In the process of boosting its confidence heading to the postseason, Marysville snapped a 17-game losing streak to Liberty dating to Dec. 7, 2010.
“Sorry we didn’t give you a more exciting game,” Patriots coach Tommy Waterwash told reporters afterward. “We got shots we were capable of hitting, but they didn’t go in. Marysville is just really, really tough defensively. All five (starters) are great athletes with great length and they all can guard.”
Marysville, which lost twice to OCC Cardinal foe Olentangy, came in yielding just 35 points per game and lowered that in Saturday’s doubleheader. The Monarchs fell to Pickerington Central in the 2023 regional final.
In the nightcap, Liberty’s boys routed Marysville 71-52.
Senior forward Addy Tweed scored 16 points to pace Marysville. JoJo Eberhart chipped in 11 points and Abbey Price 10 points and seven rebounds. Price and her younger sister Allison took turns guarding Liberty sharpshooter Gigi Bowers, an Ohio University signee. Saddled with foul trouble, Bowers managed 12 points (four shy of her average) but had to work for everything.
“The Price girls were chasing Bowers everywhere,” Ransome said. “She can make some really tough shots, but I think we got her frustrated tonight.”
Tweed said with every defensive stop, Marysville gained momentum.
“We knew they were good, but we went out there with a lot of energy and just stayed locked in on the defensive end,” she said. “Defense is what we’re all about. You could just feel the energy of our defense carrying us tonight.”
Tweed hit a three-point shot in the opening minute of the fourth quarter, then assisted Abbey Price on a nifty feed that sent the Monarchs on their way.
“That first basket Addy hit was textbook stuff,” Ransome said. “We got it inside then kicked it out. That was a big momentum builder for us. Addy does not get enough credit for the success we’ve had. She plays hard and consistent and is really starting to hit her stride offensively. She’s plays a huge and critical part in what we do.”
Once Marysville got a double-digit lead, it was able to extend the floor and run its motion offense to perfection. Meanwhile, Liberty was rushing shots in hopes of getting back into the game.
“When they get ahead, it’s a real advantage for them because they’re so hard to press,” Waterwash said. “We can shoot ourselves in games and out of games, and the latter happened tonight. We got frustrated and it got away from us. That’s a really good team we lost to tonight. They will be a tough out in the tournament.”
Four players hit double figures as Liberty coasted to an unexpectedly easy win in the boys contest.
Just a night earlier, Marysville (12-6) had clinched a share of the OCC Cardinal title, but was no match for the Patriots (10-8), who finally got a laugher after losing its past four games by margins of three, two, two and three points. Two other defeats came by four points.
Liberty has won seven of the past eight meetings against Marysville.
“As I told our coaches and kids in the locker room, I think we’ve got a good team, but we just haven’t closed out games,” Liberty coach Greg Nossaman said. “Taking care of the basketball had been a problem. Tonight, we were focused from the get-go and we were attacking.”
Sophomore Parker Van Engelenhoven, a major college baseball recruit as a pitcher, scored 14 of his game-high 16 points in the first half to pace Liberty. Junior 6-foot-9 center Tyler Kropp and Evan Nelson each added 14 points.
“Parker has been doing a lot of different things for us and he really got us out of the gate fast tonight,” Nossaman said. “Our primary goal is to get it inside to score and or at least touch it there first because teams are doubling Tyler in the post and he create a lot of openings with his passing.”
CJ Collins scored 15 points to lead Marysville, which opened the season 2-3 but has been on a roll of late. Collins banked in a 65-foot shot to end the first quarter.