Tired legs proved to be too much for the Marceline boys to hold on to a halftime lead Thursday night against Monroe City, as a 23-21 advantage at the half turned into a 62-45 defeat at home to send the Tigers to 1-4.
Monroe City improves to 4-0.
However, with just seven players dressed out, and running a full-court defensive set nearly exclusively, the home team showed no sign of exhaustion aside from losing a few steps up and down the court.
"That's how our season has been all year," Marceline coach Paul Stevens said. "Our kids are really hard to beat when they're fresh, but when the second half rolls around, teams understand we only have seven kids. I probably trapped too much tonight, but it was really effective. I tried to save their legs with a zone a little bit.
"These kids pride themselves on their body language. That's one thing I've heard every coach tell me after every game."
Levi Terrell had nearly half of the Tigers' points on Thursday night, finishing with 22. Desmond Harrison finished with nine, and Lance Gladbach posted seven before leaving the game in the fourth quarter with a leg cramp.
C.E. Talton posted 23 points for the Panthers.
Monroe City coach Brock Edris complimented the Tiger boys' grit with such limited depth.
"I was really impressed," Edris said. "Marceline really battled, took a lead into the half, and limited numbers doesn't matter when it comes to heart and playing for each other. They put us in some bad spots."