ONEONTA — A 14-4 third-quarter run helped top seed Marathon speed past second-seeded South Kortright en route to a 51-45 win in the Section IV Class D boys basketball championship Saturday, March 7, at SUNY Oneonta's Dewar Arena.
The Olympians trailed at halftime, 26-18, but played the second half with much more intensity, according to Marathon coach James Holland.
"We had a little talk in the locker room and I told our seniors they needed to start playing like seniors," said Holland, whose team won its second straight section title. "Defense and rebounds were the two key things we talked about, and that's what they did in the second half that made the difference."
After the Rams outscored Marathon, 10-2, to end the first half, the difference was stark in the third quarter. Marathon went on an 11-0 run to start the third, keeping the Rams from scoring for nearly five minutes.
"I just think the momentum shifted," South Kortright coach Aaron Kaufman said. "They drained a couple of big threes to start the quarter, and we couldn't get a shot to fall tonight."
Marathon took its first lead on a free throw by Kenyon DePuy that made it 27-26 with 4:39 left in the third quarter, and Diego Castellot drove for a layup that extended the lead to 29-26 about 50 seconds later.
The Rams rallied, and retook the lead after a putback by Seth Ashline and a turn-around jumper by Chris Champlin with 1:04 left in the quarter. However, Castellot drove the lane for a layup with four seconds left and drew a foul on Hunter Collins in the process. Castellot made the free throw to put Marathon up, 32-30, after three quarters.
The Rams never regained the lead again, although they were within a few points of Marathon for most of the final quarter. That changed when Andrew Tillotson made a three-point basket from the right corner on a pass from Castellot to make it 46-38 with 1:31 left in the game. Tillotson then stole the inbound pass and got fouled by Champlin while driving to the basket. He made both free throws and Marathon led, 48-38, with 1:20 remaining.
The Olympians missed some free throws down the stretch and Griffin Dianich made a three-point shot from the right corner on a pass from Collins with 20 seconds left to close the gap, 51-45, but that ended up being the final basket of the game.
Collins scored 17 points to lead all scorers and Ashline had nine for South Kortright (19-3), which will graduate seven seniors in the spring, including three starters.
Tillotson scored 16 points and Castellot had 10 points to lead Marathon (20-3), which will play Children's Village in a sub-regional game Tuesday, March 10, at Windsor High School.
Marathon 51, South Kortright 45
Section IV Class D boys basketball finals
at SUNY Oneonta
South Kortright ..... 16 10 4 15 - 45
Marathon ..... 10 8 14 19 - 51
SOUTH KORTRIGHT (19-3): Hunter Collins 6 4-5 17, Griffin Dianich 1 0-0 3, Seth Ashline 3 3-5 9, Logan Kaufman 0 0-0 0, Joe Krupa 2 0-0 4, Brandon Grommeck 2 0-0 4, Joey Shafer 2 0-0 4, Chris Champlin 2 0-0 4, Delijah Kenchen 0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 18 7-10 45.
MARATHON (20-3): Braeden Morrison 0 0-0 0, Diego Castellot 3 3-6 10, Andrew Tillotson 5 4-4 16, Joey Holbert 0 0-0 0, Owen Hoyt 2 2-4 8, Kenyon DePuy 3 3-7 9, Conor Holland 3 0-0 8. TOTALS: 16 12-21 51.
Three-point baskets: S 2 (Dianich, Collins); M 7 (Castellot, Tillotson 2, Hoyt 2, Holland 2).