Above: Maranatha’s Jeremy Major still scored a game-high 24 points despite a swarming defense.
For the record: This game story will only appear on the blog.
By Miguel A. Melendez, Staff Writer
PASADENA — Maranatha didn’t have to look far to find the source of where it all went wrong: the first quarter.
The host Minutemen on Tuesday night didn’t record a single field goal in the first quarter, and trailed 11-1 heading into the second. Sure, Maranatha clawed its way back to take the lead, albeit a small one, but in the end it was abysmal shooting in the first quarter that them in as Village Christian withstood Maranatha’s attack to escape with a 58-52 win in Olympic League play.
Maranatha (14-6, 2-1) trailed the entire game until Jeremy Major’s layup with 4:40 left in the third quarter tied it at 30-30. The Minutemen took its first lead at 38-37 with 1:19 left in the third quarter and led by as many as 45-41 with 6:17 left in the game off a Jorge Castello jumper. The Minutemen led 50-49 on Major’s free-throw make but Village Christian’s (19-2, 3-0) Bryan Alberts answerd right back with a 3-pointer to make it 52-50. Michael DeMeester, on an assist from Major, hit an open layup to tie it again at 52-52. But Village Christian would take the lead for good, as Marsalis Johnson, off his own miss, converted the putback to make it 54-52 with 41 seconds left in the game.
Maranatha could have tied the game with 21 seconds left in the game, but Major’s layup was negated when he was called for a traveling violation. Alberts was intentionally fouled with 19 seconds left in the game and converted both free throws to make it 56-52.
Maranatha’s Andrew Elffers connected with Major on a length-of-the-court pass, but Major’s layup attempt bounced off the front end of the rim with 13 seconds left in the game. Joe Shashaty hit both free throws to round out the scoring.
Village Christian got off to a quick 8-0 run and Maranatha didn’t score until Castello hit 1 of 2 free throws with 2:18 left in the game. The Minutemen didn’t record a field goal until 7:47 left in the second quarter on a Major layup to make it 11-3.
“I don’t know what it was,” Maranatha coach Tim Godley said. “We were down and we were out. If you play hard you can get yourself back in it and put yourself in a position to win, but they got us.”
It all summed up to woeful shooting in the first half in which Maranatha shot 15 percent from inside the arc and 7 percent from behind the 3-point line. Despite it, Maranatha still trailed only 27-17 at the half.
“If I had told you we were shooting 15 and 7 percent how much would you be down and they said 20,” said Godley when asked what he told his team at the halftime break. “Yeah, and we were only down 10. So you can battle down down from that and they did. They didn’t give up.”
Alberts scored a team-high 15 points and Major finished with a team high 24 points. The teams will meet If nothing else, Maranatha proved that it can stay on par with a Village Christian team loaded with several Division I recruits, and the Minutemen’s second-half surge is evidence of that. It’s something Maranatha will use as fuel when the teams meet again on Feb. 7.
“Now they kow that we can beat them, and so do we,” Godley said. “We’ll see what happens next time.”