UTICA — After holding a seven-point lead after the first quarter of the season, the Utica Redskins went into the locker room down 19-16 and went on to fall to the Cardington Pirates 41-30 in both teams’ season-opener Thursday in Utica.
“You always want to get the first one,” Radabaugh said. “We didn’t, but I tell you what. I thought we came out and had a great first quarter. The effort was great and the energy was great. I really think we sustained that all night. If we can just continue to play like that and then just get the basketball to go in the basket every now and then, we’re going to win our fair share.”
For much of the first quarter, the score rested at 5-4 after a frantic opening to the game. With the score at 6-5 with less than 10 ticks left on the clock, Collin McCullough drained a three. Relentless defense on the inbound attempt forced a 5-second violation giving the ball back to Utica. Mack Marston received the ensuing inbound pass and drained a deep 3-pointer at the buzzer to put the Redskins ahead 12-5 after the first eight minutes of action.
“That was big. We had a lot of momentum,” Radabaugh said. “We thought if we could win the second quarter, I think we are in a great spot. Give credit to (Cardington). They played good in the second quarter. … We stopped capitalizing when we had chances.”
Cardington did come out strong in the second quarter. Six different Pirates scored a bucket in the second, and no one scored twice in the frame. Danny Vaught and Cayman Spires led the way with converted shots from behind the arc. Cardington put up 14 points in the second, compared to four, all from Marston, by the Redskins, giving Utica a 19-16 halftime deficit.
Colton May caught fire in the post in the third quarter for the home team, putting in three buckets over the eight minutes, but as a team, Utica had several missed shots at the rim. Corbin Wygle combined for the remaining three points in the frame, as the Redskins were outscored 11-9 in the stanza to go into the final quarter down 30-25.
Cardington grew its lead to 36-28 with 2:56 to go, but a pair of Marston free throws cut the lead to six (36-30). That was as close as the Redskins could get. The Pirates hit five free throws down the stretch to clamp down for the 41-30 win.
Marston led all scorers with 11 points, with four coming from the charity stripe and another three on his buzzer beater in the first.
“Our kids feed off of him. He does a lot of different things, defensively, offensively — we ask a lot of him,” Radabaugh said of Marston. “It takes a toll on his body, but he’s got a good body to throw around in there. He means a lot to us.”
May was next in scoring with seven points, while Wygle notched five on the night. McCullough and Dakota Woodard each had three points and Brock Pfister had the final point.
Nine different Pirates scored in the contest, with Trey Brininger pacing the team with nine points. Avery Harper kicked in seven points, with Vaught contributing six. Dylan Goodman, Branden Steckel and Garrett Linkous each had four points, while Spires, Logan Doubikin and Jarred Wardlaw each knocked down a bucket.
The Pirates are now 1-0 on the year, with Utica falling to 0-1. Despite the loss, Radabaugh saw a lot to grow on from opening night.
“We had so many positives,” Radabaugh said. “It’s keeping the kids in the mindset of if they play with that effort, if they play together like that, if they communicate, good things are ultimately going to happen.”