Marietta High played with a lot of confidence at Sutton Gym last weekend, beating both Meadowbrook and Athens on Friday night and Saturday evening, respectively.
With those two orange and black victories, J.D. Secrest-coached MHS evened its overall record at 5-5.
The Tigers now have an opportunity to climb over .500 on the season with a win at Claymont High in a scheduled East Central Ohio League boys' basketball game at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Also in boys' hoops action Friday evening, No. 4-ranked Warren hosts Jackson, Caldwell is at Fort Frye, Frontier entertains Shenandoah, Waterford travels to Eastern, Morgan hosts West Muskingum, Monroe Central welcomes Buckeye Trail, Belpre visits South Gallia, Williamstown is at Parkersburg Catholic, St. Marys heads to Doddridge County, and Wood County Christian plays visiting Cross Lanes.
In girls' action, WCC will tip off play vs. Cross Lanes in Williamstown.
This will be the only winter meeting on the hardwood between Marietta and Claymont.
Sparked by Eli Lenington's 21 points - 13 in the opening period - Marietta halted a three-game slide with a dominating 76-32 triumph over visiting Meadowbrook. Non-starters' Matt Thompson and Alex Wesel chipped in with 15 and nine points, respectively.
Overall, the MHS bench produced 39 points in the rout of the Colts.
"We needed a game like this," said Secrest after the contest. "This was a good rebound game from last week."
Going back-to-back, Marietta followed that win up with another the next night, a 62-47 non-conference thrashing of visiting Athens. Tim Grosel led the scoring parade with 18 points and also dished out six assists. Lenington had another fine game with 14 points, and sophomore Braden Riley netted a breakout-game of 13 markers and had nine boards.
Since turning 18 on Dec. 30, 2011, Lenington has been averaging 17.5 points per game. Also, since that date, the Tigers have discarded the zone defense for a tight, pressuring man-to-man D.
Opponents will have to earn their points, now. No more uncontested looks from the perimeter.
Marietta matches up well against Kevin Sapara-coached Claymont, which is located in Uhrichsville and owns a winning record of 7-4. Nathan Williams is 6-foot-4 and Riley 6-5 while the Mustangs' Taylor Wise and Nick Merrick are 6-5 and 6-4, respectively.
In the backcourt, Lenington is listed at 6-foot and Grosel is 5-10.
Claymont's guards' Kohltin Miles and Blake Albaugh each is 5-9.
Justin Futrell, Marietta's other expected starter, is 6-2.
Like Marietta, Claymont also relies on a balanced scoring attack. In a 61-53 win against Fairless last Friday night, the Mustangs had four players (Merrick, Wise, Miles and Albaugh) in double figures.
On Tuesday night, Claymont fell to visiting and undefeated East Liverpool 60-53.
East Liverpool, ranked sixth in Ohio Division II, improved to 9-0 on the season.
Wise led the Mustangs with 21 points and Peterson had 15.
This season has been a turnaround for Claymont, which finished last winter with a 3-18 mark.
The Mustangs have the homecourt advantage, and the Tigers have only posted one win on the road this winter - at Dover on Dec. 16.
Marietta's next scheduled game after Friday night is also away - at Warren in a non-conference tilt Tuesday.
The Tigers are slated to return to Sutton Gym on Jan. 20 when they hook up against Coschocton.