MARIETTA - Just about everyone prefers being home for Christmas - or in the case of the Marietta High boys' basketball team, even two days after the December holiday.
At Sutton Gymnasium at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, MHS is scheduled to host Belpre in a non-conference Washington County hoops matchup.
The J.D. Secrest-coached Tigers own a 3-4 overall record and would like nothing better than to even their mark going into the new year 2013. So, far, they are 3-1 at home with victories over Frontier, Coshocton and Rosecrans.
"I like playing at home," said Secrest after his orange and black cagers posted its first win of the campaign against the Cougars by a score of 55-33 on Dec. 11.
Marietta's lone setback at Sutton Gym was a 44-33 decision to Dover in an East Central Ohio League game on Dec. 14.
In its last outing on the hardwood on Dec. 21, MHS was at the top of its game, defeating the Rosecran Bishops 64-46 for its first league triumph of the season.
Belpre (3-3) at Marietta (3-4)
Game time: 7:30 p.m. today
Place: Sutton Gymnasium
Braden Riley and Adam McKnight paced the Tigers with 16 and 15 points, respectively. Billy Weekly and Cameron Benson chipped in with nine markers apiece.
"We got ourselves a lead early and was able to maintain it," said Secrest after the Rosecrans game. "These guys don't have the killer instinct, knockout punch yet. We're still working on just competing and scoring points. It was nice to get 60 points on the board.
"A lot of kids stepped up and it kind of makes my job harder to find the nine kids to rotate in."
That, of course, is a nice problem to have.
Sparked by Cameron Benson's nine points, the Tiger bench produced 15 points against the Bishops.
Versus Belpre, Marietta is expected to start Jordan Satterfield, Riley, Weekly, McKnight, and sophomore Corey Hill, who began the season with the JV squad.
Belpre is also coming off a win last Friday night, defeating visiting Southern 60-50 in a Tri-Valley Conference-Hocking battle at the "Eagles nest."
The Jordan Thornhill-coached Golden Eagles own a 3-3 overall mark and are 3-2 in the TVC.
Against the Tornadoes, Belpre enjoyed a balanced attack with 5-10 Austin Forshey leading the way with 18 points. Six-four Bryce Pittenger added 14, 6-3 Nick Therriault had 10, and 6-foot Dakota Hoffman netted nine.
After playing Marietta High, Belpre is slated to face River Valley at Marietta College at 9:15 p.m. Friday in the Ohio River Classic.
The Tigers, on the other hand, won't be back in action until they face Roger Kirkpatrick-led Frontier in New Matamoras at 7:30 p.m., Jan. 5, 2013.
"We're pretty pleased with the steps that these guys have made," Secrest said. "We know it's going to be a learning process. We play hard, and we took care of business and got some confidence (vs. Rosecrans).
"When January roles around, we're going to hit the meat grinder, and you have to have confidence in your abilities when you go into Warren, New Philly and places like that."