After the young, green Marceline boys' basketball team began its season in dismal fashion, the Tigers have gotten their sea legs on the 2019 side of the season.
Marceline defeated a physical North Shelby team for its third straight victory on Friday night, 54-50, in a game that required the Tigers to beat a full-court press and knock down free throws down the stretch.
"We work on (free throws) every day at practice, and that's starting to pay off late in games," Marceline coach Jordan Aulbur said. "It's a big boost for them, to win in a close game in the face of adversity. We got ourselves in some trouble with turnovers, but we calmed ourselves down and didn't lose our composure. We're far more patient against the press than we were at the beginning of the year."
After taking an 18-17 lead early in the second quarter, the Tigers never trailed, and led by as many as nine points in the fourth quarter.
North Shelby cut the lead to three points three different times within the final minute and a half, but the Tigers closed out by knocking down four of their five free-throw attempts in that duration.
North Shelby falls to 7-9 on the season, and the Tigers advance to 3-12.
Luke Abeln led the Tigers with 17 points, and Desmond Fessler posted 12. Wyatt Molloy finished with an even 10, and Will Heller posted seven. Grant Coe had a team-high 14 points for North Shelby.
"Our coaches have let us know that with our group, we can't win unless we play as a team," Heller said. "I think we'll keep rolling, now that we're playing together and playing for each other. We'll keep going hard at practice and the shots will fall."