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Marietta High girls conquer Cambridge

Photo by Josh Hughes Marietta’s Jessica Smith strips the ball from a Cambridge player during the Tigers’ 78-59 win over the Bobcats Wednesday night at Sutton Gynasium.

MARIETTA — Coming off a two-game losing streak, the Marietta Tiger girls had to respond in order to get back to the .500-mark, and they did just that.

In the Tigers’ 78-59 Wednesday night win over the Cambridge Bobcats at Sutton Gymnasium, they got hot and didn’t look back. The Tigers were looking for high-percentage opportunities and got them in the first quarter, as turnovers and key shot selection led to 26 points in the first eight minutes of play. That 26-spot was good for their biggest first quarter total of this young season, and it’s exactly what head coach Allen Ruth wanted his girls to accomplish.

“We really needed that win,” Ruth said. “We needed to get back and get a little confidence to put the wind back in our sails.”

The victory puts Marietta (3-3) in a good spot, as they head over to Williamstown’s Fenton Shootout for a first-round Friday night battle against Wheeling Central Catholic.

Leading the charge for MHS was Morgan Altenburger. Her 24-point effort was a performance needed after a single-digit outing against Warren on Monday. She anchored the perimeter attack with four balls from deep, en route to a 24-point night.

Not far behind her was Jessica Smith, who routinely picked the pockets of Bobcat ball-handlers throughout the contest. Ending with 20 points, the guard cashed in on multiple fastbreak opportunities.

Hannah Kroft had a busy night down low, as she tallied a double-double with 15 points and 12 boards. It was the kind of game coach Ruth wanted her to have, as he talked about her night in the paint.

“Hannah is a big part of our gameplan that we try to do. Cambridge played zone, and Hannah played smart,” he said of the center. “(Cambridge’s zone) was good for (Altenburger’s) confidence too, because she’s been struggling a little bit. You can tell when she gets that little pep in her step. When she starts hitting shots, she’s hard to stop.”

After that first quarter, the Tigers kept adding to their lead. A 48-26 halftime lead stayed the standard, as a late fourth quarter run from the Bobcats hardly made a dent in the deficit.

Physicality was the theme in the team’s setback against Warren, so Marietta responded by forcing turnovers and fighting for the ball when they had the chance. Cambridge (1-3) spent time time in the second half looking for answers, but the Tigers kept forcing the issue. It’s a brand of basketball the group is still figuring out, as Ruth and company have time in this early part of the 2019-20 season.

“We came off a really physical game at Warren, and I’ve been on them about being more physical and getting after it,” he said. “It’s a work in progress. We’re still trying to get there. The season is still young. We’ve got a big task on Friday with Wheeling Central coming into town when we go to Williamstown.”

Contact Josh Hughes at jhughes@newsandsentinel.com

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