Avendano leads Marietta past River View

Photo by Tom Perry
Marietta High’s Mark Duckworth goes up for a basket during a high school boys basketball game against River View Friday at Sutton Gymnasium.

Photo by Tom Perry Marietta High’s Mark Duckworth goes up for a basket during a high school boys basketball game against River View Friday at Sutton Gymnasium.

MARIETTA — Anthony Avendano knew he could play better, but he was starting to wonder when it would all come together.

Well, it finally did on Friday night.

The 5-foot-11 senior hit some clutch baskets in the second half as Marietta held off a pesky River View squad 69-61 in an East Central Ohio League boys basketball game at Sutton Gymnasium.

“My teammates got me the ball,” he said. “I didn’t play much in the first half, so it was important that I got into a rhythm and I had to perform.”

Marietta coach Glenn Dawson was excited to see Avendano step up in the second half for the Tigers.

“Anthony has been in a slump this season, even in practice,” Dawson said. “It was good to see him come out and hit some key shots for us. He gave us a lift off the bench.”

Avendano took just one shot in the first half, but he made 5-of-8 shots in the second half to finish with 12 points.

After the Black Bears (2-8, 1-6) took a 40-39 lead on a John Hocter jumper, Avendano made his first basket with less than two minutes to play in the third quarter. He also connected on the Tigers’ next two possessions – a 3-point basket and jumper that gave Marietta a 46-44 lead.

Marietta closed the period with a 49-44 advantage as the lead changed eight times.

“It was a great team win,” Avendano said. “We played good defense and worked hard together.”

Derek Duckworth led the Tigers with 17 points and five assists, including three 3-pointers. He also had seven points in the third quarter when Marietta outscored the Black Bears 21-17. Cyrus Rhodes added 10 points and was tough on the boards with seven rebounds.

Another surprise for the Tigers, though, was freshman Tony Munos. After seeing limited action in the first three quarters, Munos was clutch in the final quarter. He scored Marietta’s first basket of the fourth and finished with eight points.

Munos also came up big from the foul line in the fourth. He made 4-of-6 free throws, including two huge foul shots with 34.4 seconds remaining to stake the Tigers to a 66-61 advantage. Those foul shots were critical because Marietta had missed nine foul shots in the fourth.

Dawson believes MHS fans are seeing the future of Marietta basketball in Munos, and he also expects more young players will see more playing time the rest of the season.

“Tony is what you would call a true basketball player,” Dawson said. “He has good composure on the court and his play showed that tonight.”

While Dawson was pleased with the victory, he still saw plenty of areas that needed improvement – most notably cutting down on the 21 turnovers the Tigers had Friday.

“It was an ugly game from our end of it, but I will take an ugly win any day of the week,” he said. “Turnovers have been a problem for us all season, but I did like the balance we had on offense. I think our balance was the best it has been all year.”

River View put up a strong fight, but the offense was centered around just four players – Chase Whitehair (23 points), Hocter (14), Keith Stewart (10) and Will Anderson (nine). Whitehair was a force in the paint, while Stewart was a rebounding machine with 16 boards.

After scoring just 10 points in the first quarter, the Black Bears scored 17 in each of the next three quarters.

Marietta (5-7, 2-6) travels to rival Warren for a 7:30 p.m. non-conference game on Tuesday.

“It’s always a big game for us, and you know everyone is going to come out and watch the game,” Avendano said.

Dawson agrees.

“Warren is going to be a tough test for us,” he said. “It’s always a tough game in their gym.”

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