CASTALIA – The 3-point shot has changed the game of basketball.
Margaretta’s Dylan Bailey changed Friday’s basketball game with the three-point play. Bailey scored a game-high 29 points, including four three-point plays as the Polar Bears topped Oak Harbor 69-62 for their first conference victory of the season.
Margaretta scored eight straight points in the fourth quarter as Bailey capped the spurt with a three-point play off a steal and spin for a 56-55 advantage. Oak Harbor’s Andre Ramsey and Deshawn Johnson scored for a 60-60 tie with 1 minute, 52 seconds remaining.
The Rockets’ Tyler Sievert scored a putback for a 64-62 deficit before the Polar Bears completed the scoring from the free throw line.
“In the second half we came out with a few changes and executed and rebounded better,” Bailey said. “We were able to get out and run a little for easy baskets. We went to a half-court matchup zone that we run to try to limit (Paul) Shay’s touches. That changed the mindset after (Oak Harbor) took care of the ball early.”
Shay scored a team-high 21 points, including two 3s in the first quarter and three in the third. Sievert added 13 points.
“Paul shot lights out,” Rockets coach Eric Sweet said. “He shot with confidence. Tyler has been great this season. They both played well. WE played our tails off.”
Margaretta (4-6, 1-4) demonstrated poise throughout Friday’s game. Shay scored for a 26-18 lead in the second quarter before the Polar Bears recorded the next four points.
Oak Harbor’s Isiah Jefferson scored for a 34-25 lead in the second quarter but Margaretta tallied the next six points. Polar Bears coach Steve Keller reminds his kids to ‘Oh boy it,’ meaning he wants them to stay positive and focused while continuing to battle when adversity strikes.
“You can’t change the past and you have to make the next play,” Bailey said. “We’re a senior-laden team with varsity minutes … poise comes from that. Since Danbury guys have more confidence. We’re playing as a unit. We’re starting to turn that corner and I think we’ll keep improving.”
Tristan Scott scored 12 points Friday, including a bucket during the 8-0 spurt off a steal and assist from Troy Smetzer.
Bailey’s ankle also continues to improve. He returned to the court early in the season after breaking his ankle during football but two or three games a week makes it difficult to return to 100 percent.
“I’m getting close,” said Bailey, who was serenaded with MVP chants from the student section throughout. “It’s a slow process.”
Bailey’s forays to the rim also aren’t likely to help him heal. Margaretta spends practice time daily on contact drills using pads to replicate being hit and trying to finish.
“Body control and ball control,” Bailey said. “Coach preaches going off two feet so you’re balanced and contact won’t affect you. A guy will go for a block and I’ll wait for contact because I know where I am on the floor I can score. I’ll let you hit me.”
This is much easier said than done.