By Bonta Hill
It wasn’t pretty, but Marshall High School did enough defensively to move on in the Academic Athletic Association playoffs.
The Phoenix pressed and trapped Galileo into 22 turnovers, and held the Lions scoreless for a long stretch in the second half to secure a 60-42 road win.
Marshall sophomore guard Mizelle Parker led the Phoenix (14-12) with 16 points, senior center Mark Alexander added 14 points to go along with 16 rebounds and five blocks, and junior guard Aumen Holliday contributed 12 points and seven steals in the win, to advance to face Lincoln in the AAA semifinals next week.
“The key thing with us is we have to stay focused through the whole game, not just two or three quarters,” said Marshall head coach Dezebee Miles. “This is a perfect gym to trap and press in because the width in this gym is [smaller] than regulation. No disrespect to [Galileo], but I knew our guards were stronger and would be able to press them.”
Marshall’s full-court pressure troubled Galileo (13-15) throughout, but the Lions didn’t wilt. They simply couldn’t put the ball in the basket.
After Galileo guard Brion Gregerson’s 3-pointer cut the Marshall lead to 34-29 with 2:47 left in the third quarter, the Phoenix held the Lions scoreless for nearly 7 minutes of game time.
Galileo center Chris Lee finally broke the scoring drought on a layup with 4:02 remaining in the game, but by that time, Marshall’s lead increased from five points to 15.
If they did beat the press, the Lions still struggled to get into the paint, with Alexander manning the middle of Marshall’s 2-3 zone.
“In the second half and specifically in the third quarter, we turned the ball over seven times, and then we were settling for a lot of outside shots,” said Galileo head coach Jeremy Lee. “Their length definitely bothered us today.”
Miles still wasn’t satisfied after the game, noting the Phoenix were equally sloppy with the ball and had 16 turnovers.
“We turned it over nine times in the third quarter, when we could have been safely ahead earlier in the game,” Miles said. “We have to stay focused the whole game, not just two quarters. I want them to understand what our overall goal is.”
As Marshall moves closer to its goal of a AAA championship, the season comes to a close for the Lions, who had their first winning season in league play since 2009.
“I told the team before the game that whatever happened today that we still had a great season,” Lee said.
Mizelle Parker – 16
Mark Alexander – 14
Jason Smith – 14
Aumen Holiday – 12
Preston Demming – 4
Ryan Seto – 12
Brion Gregerson – 10
Max Betkowski – 8
Chris Lee – 8
Two players tied with 2 points