FREDERICKTOWN — When the chips were down Friday, Northmor turned to a seldom-used sophomore.
That player, Logan Mariotti, then came up with a big steal, sparking the Knights to a 48-45 victory over Fredericktown in Knox-Morrow Athletic Conference boys basketball action.
“When Fredericktown got the one-point lead (41-40), I subbed Logan Mariotti in there. He’s never been in a situation like that at all in varsity, and he goes in and pokes the ball loose. Then, we come down and hit one,” said Northmor coach Zach Ruth. “That was huge.”
The Knights got two backdoor buckets and then went 4-for-4 from the free-throw line in the final 13 seconds to hold on for the exciting boys’ basketball game victory.
“We’ve got no one to blame but ourselves,” said Fredericktown coach Derek Dibling. “To beat a good team, you have to execute and do the little things. Nobody is going to hand you a win.
“I’m proud of the guys for not quitting, but we had some costly turnovers and didn’t execute down the stretch.”
The Freddies (11-9 overall, 8-5 KMAC) had fought back from an eight-point deficit in the third quarter and took the lead on a reverse layup by senior Terry Fearn with three minutes remaining in the game.
But, that’s when Mariotti got the big steal and the Knights (13-6, 10-3) made the Freddies pay.
Six-foot-six senior center Blake Miller made two beautiful passes for layups that put the Knights up by three (44-41) with 35 seconds to go. Lincoln Cunningham hit a driving layup for the Freddies with 15 seconds left to pull back within one, but that’s when the Knights turned to their football stars to ice the game.
Quarterback Hunter Mariotti took the ball out of bounds after Cunningham’s basket and hit a streaking Miller (the tight end on the football team) deep down the court. Miller was fouled intentionally and hit both free throws. Getting the ball back from the intentional foul, Northmor was fouled again and Kooper Keen hit two more free throws to ice the game.
“We always run those plays in practice, simulating those situations. The home run pass, we set that up because Hunter Mariotti’s our star quarterback and Blake’s our star tight end. We drew that up so that connection could be made again,” Ruth said.
The Freddies honored their two seniors — Fearn and Connor Zolman — before the game, then came out with something to prove. They used a 9-2 run to take a 15-6 lead with just two minutes left in the first quarter.
“We feel as thought we’ve been playing our best basketball to date. We figured some things out. … I think for the most part, we did a good job early,” Dibling said.
Northmor, however, took a challenge from Ruth to heart, going on a 16-0 run to take a lead they would hold until late in the game.
“Fredericktown got off to a heckuva start and I kinda challenged the guys. Sometimes, when I’ve challenged this group, we’ve not fought our way out like I’d like to see. Tonight, we came out with some roundhouses right off the bat,” Ruth said.
Kooper Keen led the Knights with 19 points and seven rebounds. Miller added 13 points and five assists, while Hunter Mariotti had six points, eight rebounds and three steals.
Fredericktown was led by Cunningham, who scored 20 points. Fearn added 14 points and seven rebounds, while Ty Hatfield had seven points, seven rebounds, four assists and two steals.
The Freddies are back in action Tuesday, hosting Utica, while Northmor will travel to Highland on Friday for the KMAC finale.
Fredericktown held off a late challenge by Northmor to post a 46-44 victory in the jayvee game.
Teegan Ruhl led the Freddies with 16 points, while Kaid Carpenter added 14.
The Knights were led by Logan Mariotti, who scored 18 points. Gavin Miller and Preston Harbolt both scored eight.
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