ONEONTA _ Edmeston’s boys overcame injuries, a 3-8 start to the season and the 14th seed that accompanied them into the Section Four Class D tournament.
But with big men Brandon Fallon and Nick DeVries watching from the bench the entire second quarter Wednesday, that was one obstacle that proved too tall for the Panthers.
“They’re our two go-to guys in the paint,” Edmeston coach Darren Belden said after his team’s 60-46 Section Four Class D semifinal loss to No. 10 Marathon at Oneonta State’s Dewar Arena. “We stressed all week and even since sectionals started that we have to keep our big guys out of foul trouble or we could be in trouble. We battled, but once those two hit the bench, that was huge.”
And that’s not to say that Edmeston would have advanced had Fallon and DeVries _ a pair of sturdy 6-foot-4 forwards _ played the whole way.
Marathon (9-12) used its motion offense that featured the inside-outside combination of Jeff Contri and Kody Barry with great success. The Olympians also used various zone looks throughout that made it very difficult for the Panthers to score in the paint.
But Marathon’s key run came in the second quarter. The Olympians outscored Edmeston, 15-8, in the second period to take a 33-24 lead into halftime.
Once Barry and Dan Lincoln worked a give-and-go to perfection on the right side of the court that led to an old-school three-point play for Barry 16 seconds into the second half, Marathon had a 36-24 advantage. The Olympians’ lead stayed in double-digits the remainder of the game.
“It was really huge for us to get their big guys out of the game,” said Contri, who scored 20 of his game-high 25 points in the first half. “It gives us confidence because we’re a smaller team. Coach told us when they were out to attack the rim.”
Mongoose-quick Edmeston guard Logan Vibbard scored 12 points in the opening quarter to keep his team close. Vibbard, who finished with a team-high 18 points, found gaps in the Olympians’ extended zone and hit two driving layups in the opening quarter. He also turned a steal into a layup and when he swished a deep three-pointer from left of the circle with 40 seconds left in the period, Edmeston had its final lead at 16-13.
But DeVries went to the bench with 2:38 left in the quarter with his second foul. Fallon would join him after fouling Contri with 33.1 seconds remaining in the period.
Contri hit both free throws after Fallon’s second foul to make it a one-point spread and then hit a three from the key just before the quarter buzzer to put Marathon ahead for keeps at 18-16.
“We play big schools all year, so we actually see bigger size than what they offered, but (Fallon and DeVries) did represent some pillars in there,” said Marathon coach Jim Holland, whose team plays numerous Class B and C schools during its Interscholastic Athletic Conference season. “So it was a relief that we could get inside and do some damage.”
The Olympians then went on a 10-2 run to start the second quarter _ all five baskets coming on layups.
Barry made a steal and a layup, Contri scored inside and Lincoln hit a fastbreak layup.
After Vibbard broke Marathon’s press and hit a layup, Contri scored in transition and Barry hit an uncontested right-handed layup. He worked a pick-and-roll with Contri at the top of the key and when both Edmeston defenders went with Contri, Barry took it to the basket to give Marathon a 28-18 lead 4:20 before halftime.
What the Olympians proved Wednesday was that there’s still a place in basketball for teams that are committed to moving without the ball, setting solid screens and taking the ball hard to the basket.
“You had to know where your guy was at all times and where the other guys were, because they were quick and they were getting by our guys,” Vibbard said. “They were penetrating, so you had to help.”
In the third quarter, a three-pointer from the key by Linton Wainright followed by an impressive finish at the rim on a full-speed drive by Vibbard closed Edmeston’s deficit to 43-33 with 3:20 left.
Twenty seconds into the fourth quarter, Wainright set up DeVries for a layup that made it 50-39.
But eight straight Marathon points all but ended things.
Contri hit a driving layup, then a free throw, Barry made a driving layup and Zach Brandstadt ended the spurt on a three-pointer. That gave the Olympians a 58-39 lead with three minutes left.
Barry finished with 24 points, including three three-pointers.
“Defensively, we’re a unit, but offensively (Contri and Barry) are our best threats and they stepped up,” said Holland, whose team will oppose top-seeded Morris _ a 77-39 winner over Hunter-Tannersville in the other semifinal Wednesday _ in the Class D final at 6 p.m. Saturday back at O-State.
Edmeston (10-10), which received 12 points from Fallon and nine from Wainright, will return all but Clayton Hawes from its starting lineup next season.
“We were 3-8 at one point,” said Belden, whose team upset third-seeded Richfield Springs, 51-48, in the first round and then downed No. 11 Gilboa, 51-44, in a quarterfinal.. “They weren’t even going to let us go to sectionals. We made a heck of a run.
“Once we were in sectionals, I knew we were going to be tough,” he continued. “We had a lot of injuries. We lost Fallon for five weeks with an ankle and then Jordan Ruffles tore an ACL, but all of these kids have heart. All year long, whether we were down one or down 20, they kept scrapping.”
Added Vibbard: “We were the underdogs with no pressure. All of the pressure was on the other team. We just played our hearts out.”
Marathon 60, Edmeston 46
SECTION FOUR CLASS D
Semifinal at Oneonta State
14-EDMESTON (10-10): Linton Wainright 4 0-0 9, Logan Vibbard 7 3-5 18, Brandon Fallon 6 0-0 12, Clayton Hawes 1 0-0 2, Clayton Lyon 1 0-0 3, Lucas Miller 0 0-0 0, Nick DeVries 1 0-0 2, Brady Plows 0 0-0 0, Elisha Madison 0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 20 3-5 46.
10-MARATHON (9-12): Dan Lincoln 1 0-0 2, Kody Barry 8 5-5 24, Zach Brandstadt 1 2-2 5, Cody Morrison 1 0-0 2, David Lincoln 0 0-0 0, Dan Wickham 0 0-0 0, Tyler Hollerer 1 1-2 3, Isaiah Brooks 0 0-0 0, Holden Morsey 0 0-0 0, Jeff Contri 10 4-6 25. TOTALS: 22 11-17 60.
Edmeston 16 8 13 9 _ 46
Marathon 18 15 15 12 _ 60
Three-point field goals: E 3 (Wainright, Vibbard, Lyon); M 5 (Barry 3, Contri, Brandstadt).
Rob Centorani can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 607-432-1000, ext. 209.