Defense the difference for Margaretville boys

Staff report
“Can the Blue Devils play man-to-man defense as well as the Patriots?” was the question Margaretville coach John Bernhardt wrote in his notes as he scouted Downsville and Cherry Valley in the consolation game of Delhi’s Thanksgiving Tournament.

Bernhardt speculated a zone defense would fail to stop Downsville’s long-range shooting attack, opting to have his Blue Devils try a man-to-man defense against the Eagles instead. The Blue Devil defense was up to the challenge holding their guests to only 12 points during the middle quarters as Margaretville rolled to a 48-41 victory last Wednesday.

Tightening up
With the score knotted at 13-13 after one period of play, Margaretville’s defense stiffened. The Blue Devils held the Eagles to two Ethan Bass field goals, outscoring their guests, 11-4, in the second period to take a 24-17 lead into intermission.

The Blue Devils managed the third quarter like they finished the second. Margaretville’s defense continued its stingy play limiting the Eagles to one three-point goal, one two-point goal and three foul shots during the period. On the other end of the court, Margaretville unleashed an inside/outside offensive assault, mixing three-point bombs by Matt VanValkenburg and Kyle Short with eight Mitch Hull points from inside the paint. The Blue Devils doubled Downsville’s output, 16-8, building a 40-25, advantage heading into the final quarter.

Eagles rally
But, Downsville wasn’t done. With Ethan Bass leading the way, the Eagles ran off the first eight points of the final frame to get back in the game. Hull hit a rolling score through the lane and Marshall Bouton put back a missed Blue Devil shot to douse the Eagle rally. Bass would score 12 of his team-high 24 points during the period but it was not enough as Margaretville held on for the 48-41 victory.

Mitch Hull had a huge night for Margaretville scoring a season-high 24 points. Hull went a perfect four-for-four from the field in both the first and fourth quarters, pulled down 12 rebounds, and blocked three shots. Margaretville got six-point efforts from Bouton and Short. Sean Gauntt added five points and seven rebounds for the Blue Devils.

The victory improves Margaretville’s overall season record to 3-4.