For the second season in a row, the Marionville Comets opened the basketball season by winning their home tournament in dramatic fashion.
Whereas last year's Comets rolled to opening round and semifinal wins under Coach Ted Young, this year's team seemed to win out of pure determination, first defeating Buffalo 49-46, then taking down second-seeded Cassville by the same score. By Saturday's final, the tournament seeds had no meaning, as third-seeded Marionville met fifth-seeded Spokane for the championship.
The Comets found themselves in a hole early, trailing 6-0 before junior Josh Goodman put the home team on the board with a drive for two. Goodman's seven first quarter points helped the Comets tie it at 10 points apiece by the end of the first period.
Marionville's offense began to find its rhythm in the second quarter, taking the lead early on a bucket by junior Dominick Clevenger. But the Owls kept right up and the teams went into the locker room at halftime separated by a point, 24-23 in the Comets' favor.
Whatever rhythm the offense had in the second quarter was non-existent in the third, though, as Marionville managed just six points in the frame and fell behind 37-30 going into the final quarter.
The Comets' patented alley-oop play worked to perfection to start the fourth, giving the home crowd some energy to put behind the team, and soon the Comets were able to tie the game at 42. For the next few minutes, the teams exchanged the lead, until a Spokane three made it 50-50 with 1:50 to play.
Neither team was able to find the bottom of the net for the remaining minute-plus, and the final game of the tournament went to overtime.
Nearly 30 seconds into the four-minute period, the Comets struck first on an old-fashioned three-point play by junior Laythen Utke. From there the home team rolled, outscoring Spokane 15-7 in the extra period to claim the 65-57 win and the tournament title.
Goodman's 23 points led the champions on the day, while senior Ryan Mayberry added 17 and junior Gavin Stanton racked up 12. Utke finished with nine points, while Clevenger and junior Evan Dotson added two each.
In a Tuesday matchup at Billings, the Comets fell by a final score of 66-43. Goodman led Marionville again, this time with 18, while Stanton added 12. Utke and Mayberry contributed six and five points, respectively, while Dotson again recorded two.
The Comets will host Southwest on Friday and Galena on Tuesday, with both games scheduled to tip-off at 6 p.m.