Rivalry game doesn’t disappoint
Marmaton Valley rallies to edge out Uniontown

By JOCELYN SHEETS
Register Sports Editor

 

Register/Jocelyn Sheets
Uniontown High’s Ben Dixon (20) tries to fly over Marmaton Valley High’s Dalton Houk (22) to get to the basketball with Eagle teammate Brenton Esslinger (33) watching. Houk and the Wildcats battled through shooting woes for a come-from-behind 57-55 win at home Friday in the season opening game for both teams.

MORAN — No pressure, no pressure at all.
Tanner Lewis got himself into the situation. He tapped away the inbounds pass, went after then was fouled on the scramble for the basketball. Didn’t matter that up to this point — 11 seconds left in the game — Lewis and his Marmaton Valley High teammates had gone 8 of 28 from the free-throw line.
So there the junior guard stood at the foul line with the score knotted 55-55 against archrival Uniontown High’s Eagles. Lewis sank both free throws giving his team the lead Friday night.
But it wasn’t over yet. In front of a stirred up crowd in MVHS gym, the Eagles still had an opportunity to tie or win the game. Uniontown turned the ball over with 4.2 seconds left under its own basket.
The Eagles defended the inbounds play well, creating a turnover. Only 1.1 second showed on the game clock. That was corrected to 2.3 seconds by the officials following an Eagle timeout.
One more play. One more shot for the Eagles. Senior guard Ben Dixon had a good look at three-pointer from the corner along the baseline. The shot was off the mark, the buzzer sounded and the home crowd celebrated.
“What a game. Our guys finally came out and played some good basketball in the second half. We didn’t hit the free throws very well but Tanner knocked two at the end,” said Denny Lasley, who after 19 years sitting on the bench watching Wildcat teams win and lose as an assistant coach, notched his first win as Wildcat head coach.
“It was a tremendous game to watch. The crowd came to life in the second half as we got back in the game,” Lasley said of the 57-55 non-league win by the Wildcats over the Eagles.
Uniontown High head coach Nathan Hinrichs echoed that sentiment.
“During a timeout I told our kids, this is why you play basketball. This was a fantastic atmosphere tonight. I just wish the good guys had won,” Hinrichs said with a smile.
“I really thought we had them (the Wildcats) on the ropes when we were up by double digits in the third quarter. We had some defensive lapses and weren’t sound defensively.”
Hinrichs pointed to the fact the Eagles out the Wildcats on the free-throw line 30 times in the game. Even though Marmaton Valley hit just 10 of those foul shots it was enough to kick start the Cats’ offense.
The Wildcats opened the game with a 7-2 lead. The first shot of the night was a three-pointer junior Dalton Houk. Houk would hit three treys on the night as he scored 11 points for the Cats.
That lead was wiped away when Uniontown went inside to 6-4 senior DuShaun Robinson. Robinson even stepped out and nailed a three-pointer to tie the game at 7-7.
Robinson’s basket with 2:48 left in the first quarter gave the Eagles their first lead of the night. Allen Johnson, senior guard, scored the next five points for the Eagles for a 14-8 advantage.
Marmaton Valley sophomore Zack Louk connected then senior forward Kurtis LaRue scored and was fouled. He missed the foul shot and Uniontown led 14-12.
Uniontown’s Zach Travis opened the second quarter with a trey and the Eagles stayed in front. Marmaton Valley had opportunities to close the gap from the line but missed.
The Eagles were able to maintain their lead going into halftime. Uniontown was up on Marmaton Valley 25-19.
Uniontown outscored Marmaton Valley 7-3 in the first two minutes of the third quarter to lead 32-22. Dixon’s three-pointer gave the Eagles that 10--point margin.
But the Wildcats wouldn’t fold.
“We gave them easy points and they kept hanging around,” Hinrichs said.
Houk drilled at three--pointer at the close of the third quarter. It brought the Wildcats to within four, 42-38, with one quarter left.
The margin stayed at four in the early going. Dixon had a three-point play for the Eagles to push their lead to 49-42 at the 5:34 mark.
LaRue had a putback, Lewis hit a free throw then made a drive down the lane for a basket. It was 49-47 but on the Eagles’ next trip down Robinson hit a mid-range jumper.
Right on the midway mark — 4:00 — Tanner McNutt pulled the Wildcats to within one. He completed a conventional three-point play.
The next 2:20 was a mad scramble of turnovers, missed shots and rebounds.
Dixon made a saving pass from the baseline into Travis, who converted the play into a basket. That came at the 1:40 mark.
LaRue scored and was fouled but again missed the charity. It was Ethan Ericson’s three-pointer with 56 seconds left that put Marmaton Valley in front, 55-53.
Dixon drove the lane for the tying basket 10 seconds later. Then a frantic final 40 seconds ended up with Lewis at the line and Dixon taking a final shot.
LaRue led the Wildcats with 15 points, nine rebounds and three assists. Ericson had three assists and two blocked shots. Lewis had two steals.
Robinson poured in 15 points for the Eagles and Travis had 13. Dixon and Johnson each added 11 points. Uniontown was 6 of 11 at the foul line.
Marmaton Valley (1-0) is at home next week in the MVHS Preseason Tournament. The Wildcats open the round-robin event against Northeast High of Arma on Tuesday.
Uniontown (0-1) travels to Yates Center for the Wildcat Winter Classic. The Eagles play Sedan Tuesday in the opening round.
Marmaton Valley won the junior varsity game 48-30. Louk had 15 points. In a two-quarter C-team game, Marmaton Valley won 14-5 with Ryan Smith and Nathan Whitcomb with four points each.

Uniontown (14-11-17-13—55) (FG/3-pt): Ramsey 0-0-2-0, Travis 4/1-2-1-13, Wiley 0-0-2-0, Kuns 0--0-4-0, Dixon 3/1-2-1-11, Mills 0-1-0-1, Labbe 0-0-2-0, Esslinger 2-0-5-4, Johnson 5-1-4-11, Robinson 6/1-0-3-15, McAnulty 0-0-2-0. TOTALS: 20/3-6-26-55.
Marmaton Valley (12-7-19-19—57) (FG/3-pt): McNutt 2/1-2-1-9, Louk 2-0-1-4, Lewis 2-3-3-7, Kuns 2-1-1-5, Houk 1/3-0-1-11, Ericson 1/1-1-4-6, LaRue 6-3-2-15. TOTALS: 16/5-10-13-57.