Margaretta tried to use the momentum gained from its huge come-from-behind win Friday over Perkins to deliver an early knockout blow Saturday to St. Mary Central Catholic.
When that plan didn’t finish off the Panthers, the Polar Bears relied on their will to hold on for a 56-51 victory.
“We ran out of gas,” said Margaretta coach Troy Roth. “Last night (against Perkins) took a lot out of us and we were exhausted. The shots we were hitting in the first half were falling short in the second and they just kept coming and coming.”
The Bears (4-4, 3-4) used the press and some ice-cold shooting by St. Mary CC to build a 24-4 lead in the first 11 minutes of the game and led 37-20 in the first two minutes of the second half.
But Chad Schlett brought the Panthers roaring back.
The senior scored eight of his game-high 17 points in the first three minutes of the fourth quarter as SMCC trimmed the deficit to 45-43. The Panthers were able to close to within 51-50 on a free throw from Pat Sennish with 1:21 remaining, but Margaretta hit 5 of 8 free throws down the stretch with Tanner Salyers hitting a pair with 11.2 seconds to play to seal the win.
“I told the guys after the game I would never complain about a win,” Roth said. “A wins a win, no matter how you get it. We had to get back into the game (Friday) night and we thought we could press St. Mary, but then it started hurting us.
“We felt we couldn’t do it anymore and their kids came out and played very hard in the second half.”
The Panthers (2-8, 1-6) got themselves in the hole by missing their first 16 shots from the field until Pete Doyle ended the drought with 5:01 to play in the first half.
“We told them to keep playing,” St. Mary CC coach Lyle Falknor said. “And it was probably 14 pretty good shots that just wouldn’t go down. But they finally did and we crawled back in it.
“Our guys played very well in the second half, really three quarters. But that’s been the broken record of our season. If we could find away to play the entire 32 minutes, we could play with these teams.”
Craig Galindo finished with a team-high 14 points, including a pair of huge treys at the end of the third quarter to give the Bears a 44-37 lead heading into the fourth quarter. Salyers came off the bend to score 11 points while Devon Jones pulled down a team-leading seven rebounds.
Schlett added 12 rebounds to his totals while Sennish and Brian Ferber each scored 12 points. Ferber also ended with eight boards.
“I’m very proud of the way we played in the second half,” Falknor said. “Maybe we grew up a little in the second half. That would be fitting, wouldn’t it — we grow up a little in the second half of this game to grow up in the second half of the season.”
Margaretta added a 48-41 decision in the jayvee opener with Andrew Freeh tossing in nine points and Derek Kuns and Tyler Hilton each adding eight. Austin Opfer had a game-high 12 points and Devon McDonald added eight for the Panthers.