DRAFFENVILLE – Marshall County, with victories over teams from three different states in their first three games, took on an opponent from yet another state Friday night – Victoria, one of seven states that make up the nation of Australia.
The Marshals scored a 65-52 victory over Rowville Sports Academy, whose team is touring the Commonwealth on a 21-day visit.
Senior point guard Cole Nelson led the Marshals with 19 points, followed closely by Chase York with 13 and Austin Rentfrow with 11. Rentfrow, a 6-5 sophomore, had a game-high eight rebounds.
Brayden Flanigan, a 6-0 junior guard, led Rowville with 14 points. Fellow co-captain Damien Rance, a 6-6 junior forward, added 10 points and a team-best six rebounds.
Pace was a factor, with Rowville, which competes with a 24-second shot clock in its home league, playing according to form and pushing the ball upcourt in a hurry.
Their penetration and interior passing was crisp in the first quarter and the visitors maintained a slim advantage in the early going.
As the end of the first period drew near, though, turnovers began to take their toll. The Marshals led 17-14 after eight minutes and ran the score to 24-14 in the first 50 seconds of the second period.
By halftime, Rowville had 13 turnovers and had been victimized by nine MC steals. Peter Northcutt, Chase Buchanan and Chase Clark all had two apiece.
Even though the Marshals were shooting at a 44 percent clip compared to Rowville’s 58.8, they were winning the battle under their offensive backboard and getting easy stickbacks. It all added up to a 42-20 halftime lead.
Rowville settled down and won the second half 32-23, but the issue was in hand.
“The first five minutes, we were not ready to play,” Marshals coach Gus Gillespie said. “They’re a good team. They pass the ball very well, they handle the ball well, they shoot the ball well.”
Rowville coach Alex Palazzolo admitted that his team might been fatigued playing its eighth game in nine days, but did not make an excuses.
“We showed a lot of energy in the fourth quarter,” he said.
He did allude to his team’s habit of playing at an NBA pace.
“We were less patient than we could’ve been,” he said.
“We were rushing up shots,” Rance said.
Marshall County’s Northcutt agreed that the game was played at breakneck pace.
“It was as if we had a shot clock,” Northcutt said. “It was up and down, up and down, all game.”
Rowville’s floor general, Flanigan, felt the second period, when his team was outscored 25-6, was crucial.
“Second quarter, we were terrible,” he said. “We just had a lack of energy, on defense and offense.”
Northcutt and Buchanan finished with four steals apiece. Buchanan also had four assists.
n Fulton County, its team hobbled by the dismissal of four veteran players, canceled its game scheduled against Marshall County Saturday night. A search for a stand-in opponent was unsuccessful, leaving the Marshals with a single game in the week following the Hoop Fest.