By Keith Lair Staff Writer
PASADENA – Those geometry lessons paid off for the Maranatha High School boys basketball team on Tuesday night.
Box-and-one defenses are common in shutting down a scorer. The Minutemen went one better in their 63-58 nonleague victory over visiting Pasadena Poly. They played a triangle-and-two defense.
The goal was to stop the Panthers’ Hunter Merryman and Daniel Wohl.
“What made me think of it was when Hunter and Daniel had like 60 points against Flintridge Prep,” Maranatha coach Tim Godley said. “If they do that to us, we’re going to get killed. So it worked.”
The Minutemen tried out the defense in Monday’s practice session.
“We were not going to let them touch the ball,” the Minutemen’s Josh Chamberlain said. “We’ll let the other guys beat us.”
The Minutemen opened with the traditional 2-3 zone defense and Merryman had eight points and Wohl three in the Panthers’ 14-point first quarter. Then they switched to the triangle-and-two.
“Do I have the guts to do it?” Godley said. “They beat us up in the zone, so I thought maybe it would throw them off a bit.”
CLICK ON THREAD TO CONTINUE READING
Whenever the two Panthers got the ball, they were seemingly swarmed by Maranatha defenders.
“We had the zone figured out in the first quarter,” Merryman said. “We don’t practice the triangle-and-two and box-and-one very often and that throws us off every time.”
Poly took its final lead at 28-27 when Merryman, who had a team-high 20 points, scored on a layup. Maranatha went on a 7-0 run for a 35-30 halftime lead.
The defense seemed particularly effective in the third quarter, when the Panthers (16-2) made only 18.2 percent (2of11) of their shots.
“They put a Mickey Mouse defense in and it threw us off,” Poly coach Brad Hall said. “We’ve seen it before, but we didn’t get done what we wanted to do against it.”
In the meantime, it was bomb’s away for the Minutemen. Jeremy Major hit a pair of 3-pointers and Ryan Holstein made one from the corner to get the Minutemen (17-5) out to a 50-35 lead.
“We’re on a roll now,” said Chamberlain, who had a game-high 29 points on 10-of-17 shooting, including three 3-pointers. “Before we were off. This is how we should be playing every game.”
But things changed in the fourth quarter. Maranatha, which shot 46.2 percent (18 of 39) through the first three quarters, missed its first seven attempts. The Panthers only missed two and cut the deficit to 50-43.
Chamberlain hit a 3-pointer from the corner and Holstein made a 17-footer. Poly then converted what amounted to a six-point play to cut the lead to 55-51 with 1:33 to play. Wohl was fouled while shooting and Maranatha was called for a technical foul. Wohl, who had 17 points, made all four free throws and Merryman scored on a 15-footer after the inbounds pass.
But the Panthers were forced to foul and Major made six of eight foul shots down the stretch to keep the Panthers at least four points off the lead.
“We kind of had to make some plays offensively and make free throws when we had to,” Godley said. “Basketball is a game of runs. They are a very, very good team and we knew they would make a run at us.”