Marietta High has had its share of nail-biters this winter.
Let's face it, the Southeastern Ohio Athletic League (SEOAL) is one tough, competitive conference, and nothing comes easy playing the likes of Logan, Jackson, and Warren on a regular basis.
"We're very fortunate," said MHS head girls basketball coach Scott Cozzens after the Lady Tigers (21-2) routed Sheridan, 64-24, in a sectional championship game at Alexander High on Feb. 19.
"We've had a lot of close games (this season) that we've come out on the plus side of," continued Cozzens."
One of those close games was a week ago in an Ohio Division II district semifinal game at Southeastern High where MHS downed Jackson, 40-38, on Ali Summers' buzzer-beating bucket. With that victory, the Lady Tigers punched their ticket to Saturday's 11 a.m. district championship tilt against South Point (19-3) at the Ohio University Convocation Center.
David Adams-coached South Point could be Marietta's toughest opponent to date on the hardwood this winter. The Lady Pointers are coming off a convincing 66-32 triumph over the top-seeded Miami Trace Lady Panthers (20-2) last Thursday.
Marietta actually knows a little bit about the Lady Pointers, having watched them play and defeat Warren, 61-41, in a sectional final at Alexander on Feb. 19.
South Point boasts two 1,000-plus point career scorers in seniors' Jalynn Bradburn and Kayla Fletcher. Amazingly, the duo achieved the milestone when they were juniors.
Against Warren, the 6-foot Bradburn and 5-6 Fletcher scored 16 and 15 points, respectively. Both are very quick and athletic - and can shoot from anywhere on the floor.
Fletcher is SP's primary ballhandler, and a press-breaker.
In the district semi, Bradburn tallied 21 points and Fletcher had 20.
Oh, yes, they're also not South Point's only offensive weapons. Kimmie Bennett and Angelica Stewart netted 11 and nine points, respectively, against the Lady Warriors. And, Allison Mitchell, the other probable starter, had nine markers against the Lady Panthers.
First off the pine will probably be three-point threat Erin Dillow, who scored 11 points against Miami Trace, and freshman Aundrea Bradburn.
Against a very good defensive team in Trace, South Point was 26 of 51 from the field for 51 percent and six of 11 from three-point range. The Lady Pointers also forced 21 turnovers.
"They're a pretty tough team, and they're going to go some places," said Warren coach Ryan Werry after the sectional final.
Top-seeded Marietta, of course, is a pretty tough team as well, and could be South Point's toughest opponent to date this season.
The Lady Tigers are paced by sophomore Erica Dawson and senior Maegan Grosel, who are averaging 17 and 11 points per game, respectively. Against Sheridan, Dawson tallied a career-high 29 points.
A real ballhawk, Dawson is averaging a Mid-Ohio Valley-leading four steals per game.
As for Grosel, look for her to be matched up defensively against Jalynn Bradburn.
MHS point guard Amanda Brown is averaging eight points ppg and a team-high three assists per contest. The 5-6 southpaw, though, is very capable of putting up big numbers. In a win against Logan this season, she scored 22 points.
Look for Brown to be matched up defensively against Fletcher.
Marietta is also expected to start 5-10 Betsy Schramm and 6-foot Summers. Both are solid defenders in the paint and good finishers on offense.
Elizabeth Stoll, Lusia Barton and Alexis Walsh will probably be the first people off the Lady Tiger pine.
In many ways, Marietta and South Point mirror each other on the hardwood. Both prefer an uptempo pace and like to press.
Both are also very athletic and capable of shooting lights out.
If the game is tight, give the nod to Marietta. The Lady Tigers seem to have a knack for pulling out the close ones.
But on the flip side, if South Point's Bradburn and Fletcher do their thing, it could be a very long game for the Lady Tigers.