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Warriors, Aviators share runner-up league slot
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By Dan Ries
Carrollton senior Lincoln Mallarnee scored 25 points as the Warrior boys defeated the Minerva Lions 56-45 in a near sold out Warrior gym Feb. 9.
The victory puts the Warriors in a second-place tie with Alliance at 6-4 in the Eastern Buckeye Conference. West Branch won the EBC with a 9-1 record. Marlington finished fourth at 5-5, Minerva was fifth at 4-6 and Salem finished last at 0-10.
It was no surprise that Mallarnee started the scoring on senior night with a 3-pointer 30 seconds into the game to give the Warriors the early lead. But as both teams exchanged baskets, it was Warrior junior Braylen Murphy hitting three 3-pointers, the last just before the buzzer, to give Carrollton the 17-15 first quarter lead.
Minerva junior Braxton Keister hit a 3-pointer at the six-minute mark of the second quarter to give the Lions an 18-17 lead. It would be the last basket Minerva would score in the second quarter until sophomore Rowen Hoffee scored his first points of the game with 20 seconds left in the half. Carrollton would take a 27-20 advantage into halftime.
The Warriors defense continued to keep Minerva off the scoreboard in the third quarter.
Carrollton ran off 11 straight points before Minerva senior Garrett Gonzalez hit two foul shots with 2:09 left in the third. Carrollton outscored the Lions 16-5 in the third quarter for a 43-25 lead.
Over the second and third quarters, 16 minutes of basketball, the Warriors outscored Minerva 26-10 and held the Lions two top scorers, Gonzalez and Hoffee, to seven and two points through three quarters.
But, you know what they say about sleeping lions. In the fourth quarter the Minerva Lions were awake.
Minerva cut the Warrior lead to 46-36 with 4:55 to play, largely due to some sloppy turnovers by the Warriors and fast break layups by the Lions. By 2:58 the Warriors’ lead had been slashed to four points at 48-44.
At 1:44 the Lions trailed 48-45. Leading the comeback was Hoffee with eight points and Gonzalez with seven.
All season long Carrollton Head Coach Mike Aukerman told his players when it comes to crunch time, he wants to see the ball in one person’s hands, his senior: Mallarnee.
“I don’t care if he shoots it or passes it. I trust his judgment,” Aukerman said.
With one minute left in the game Mallarnee took over, scoring eight points with a layup and going six-for-six from the free throw line to give the Warriors the victory.
Mallarnee led all scorers with 25 points, including a 10-for-12 performance at the foul line. Murphy contributed 14, including four 3-pointers. Andrew Birong scored nine points and pulled down 11 rebounds, just one point short of his sixth double-double. Everett Brooks had two 3-pointers. Mallarnee and Birong each had one.
Gonzalez led the Lions in scoring with 14. Hoffee contributed 10. Owen Shick, Braydon Wood, Miles Miller, Hoffee and Gonzalez each had one 3-pointer for Minerva.
Mallarnee, the lone senior on the team, holds the school record for free throw percentage 252/305 (82.62). For his career, Mallarnee has hit 132 three pointers. His 25 points in this game moved him into eighth place on the all-time scoring list. He needs 20 points to pass Caleb Pasiuk (2012-2015) for seventh place. This year, Mallarnee has scored 414 points (19.71pg), sank 128/180 (80%) free throws and 42/104 (40.38%) 3-pointers. He has pulled down 111 rebounds (5.28pg) and has 72 steals (3.42pg).
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