MARIA STEIN – Marion Local dominated the paint on Tuesday as the Bradford boys basketball team lost 79-29 to the Flyers.
Marion Local presented a tough matchup for Bradford as the Flyers have reached the regional finals of the Ohio High School Athletic Association tournament three times in the past four years. Bradford, meanwhile, entered the first game of 2018 on a seven-game losing streak after winning its season opener against Middletown Christian.
“I think it went interesting,” Bradford coach Dante Dunston said. “We integrated some players. It was difficult for our team to kind of find ourselves. We’re going through a stage of finding ourselves, find out who we are as a team and what we’re willing to do to win.”
Bradford led early with a 3-pointer by Parker Smith putting the Railroaders up 3-0. After Marion Local took a 4-3 lead, Smith scored again to put the Railroaders up 5-4.
With 4:28 remaining in the opening quarter Marion took the lead for good, but Bradford kept it close with another 3-pointer by Smith, who scored the Railroaders’ first 8 points of the game.
From a 10-8 advantage, Marion Local started to take control and by the end of the quarter led 24-13.
The Flyers, whose five starters all were 6 feet or taller, used their height and fed the ball inside. The shorter Railroaders fouled eight times in the opening quarter, and the Flyers responded by sinking their first 13 free throws of the night.
“It’s very difficult, but we were in position and just not willing to do what it takes to move people out of position,” Dunston said of contending with Marion’s size. “Every game it seems we’re getting better; it’s just other teams are getting better also.”
After scoring Bradford’s final 5 points of the first quarter, Dialaquan Millhouse continued to lead the Railroaders in the second quarter with 5 more points to give him 10 at the half. However, no other Railroaders scored in the second quarter as the Flyers increased their lead to 45-18.
With 2 more points each in the third quarter, the duo of Smith and Millhouse ended up scoring Bradford’s first 22 points of the game. Andy Branson then drained a 3-pointer with 3:18 remaining in the quarter. Branson, who returned to the court for the first time this season after suffering a knee injury last year, added another basket a couple minutes later.
“It’s nice to see him able to run and get to play with his friends,” Dunston said of Branson, who led Bradford with 15.4 points per game last season. “He was quite nervous today. I’m sure the next game we’re going to get out some of those jitters.”
With Branson’s contributions, Bradford trailed 67-27 entering the fourth quarter. In the final stanza the Railroaders were limited to a single basket by Millhouse as they fell 79-29.
Millhouse led Bradford with 14 points on Tuesday. Also for the Railroaders, Smith scored 10 points while Branson added 5.
Tyler Mescher led Marion Local with a game-high 24 points. Also for the Flyers, Nathan Bruns scored 14 points, Nick Tangeman scored 13, Sam Huelsman scored 10, Matt Rethman scored 7, Jack Buening scored 4, Max Albers scored 3, Collin Everman scored 2, and Tyler Prenger scored 2.
Marion Local out-rebounded Bradford 44 to 16. The Flyers were 25-of-34 at the free throw line while the Railroaders were just 1-of-2. Bradford had 24 turnovers to Marion’s 10.
Bradford fell to 1-8 with Tuesday’s loss while Marion Local improved to 4-2. Bradford will play host to Tri-Village on Friday in a Cross County Conference game.
Kyle Shaner may be reached at 937-569-4316. Follow me on Twitter @KShanerAdvocate or get updates on Facebook by searching Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.