A pair of tough losses had Zanesville enter Friday’s game with a renewed focus.
The effort was rewarded as the Blue Devils relied on tenacious defense and timely offense to overcome the Tornadoes and end a two-game skid with a 47-33 victory in an East Central Ohio League Scarlet Division game at Winland Memorial Gymnasium.
A quick 10-0 start allowed Zanesville (3-2, 7-2) to take control early. Although the Tornadoes hung around for most of the night, the Blue Devils came through with the game on the line.
Dover (3-1 ECOL) cut an eight-point halftime lead to three when Mason Mamarella knocked down a 3-pointer to make it 28-25 with 4:30 remaining in the third quarter. The Blue Devils had an answer, holding Dover to eight points in the final 12:30 of the game.
Dar Stanford sparked the Zanesville offense, knocking down a jumper and finding Thomas Wibbeler for an easy basket to push the lead back to 32-25. After a Dover basket, Jake Phillis hit a 3 before the third-quarter buzzer for a 35-27 lead.
The Tornadoes scored the first basket of the fourth, but Ramon Wilson came back with five consecutive points, and a 3 from Stanford capped a quick 8-0 run to seal the victory.
The patience his team displayed on both ends left an impression on Blue Devils coach Scott Aronhalt. Zanesville shot almost 50 percent (19-of-40), including 5-of-11 on 3s to go with just two turnovers. On defense, it held Dover to 42-percent shooting (13-of-31) and limited Mamarella to 12 points.
“We did some good things on offense, and we didn’t gamble on defense,” Aronhalt said. “We remained in our stances, contested shots and didn’t commit bad fouls. That’s tough to do for 40-50 second possessions.
“Our offense was good on time and score. We remained aggressive on the offensive end. We had been passive against New (Philadelphia) and Cambridge.”
Getting behind early hampered Dover’s offense. The Tornadoes pulled to 10-6 to end the first before the Blue Devils used a 9-2 run to open the second. It was capped by J.T. McFarland’s steal and layup to push the lead to 19-8.
Mamarella came back with five quick points to cut the deficit to six, but Zanesville closed the first half strong, as McFarland’s jumper before halftime put the Blue Devils up 23-15.
Dover coach Bob Von Kaenel said the two buzzer beaters and the early deficit put his team in a precarious position.
“We’re not a high scoring team, and we weren’t able to knock down some open looks in the early going,” he said. “They also had five points to end two quarters, and we couldn’t force the ball out of their hands.”
Phillis used 5-of-7 shooting to finish with a team-high 11 points and had four assists. Stanford chipped in 10 points and five rebounds and Wilson added eight points.
Michael Donizetti chipped in 10 points for Dover, which had eight turnovers and held a 21-20 edge on the glass.
Zanesville reserves won 37-28 behind 14 points from Matt Weir and 12 by Kade Johnson. Merrick Mamarella scored 13 to pace Dover.