• 63°

Longhorns one win from state

After falling at home to Lowndes Academy in an unlikely late-season loss last week, Marengo Academy bounced back with season-ending wins over Meadowview Christian and Escambia Academy over the weekend.

“It seemed the next night (after the loss to Lowndes) against Meadowview and then against Escambia, they picked up the pace a little,” MA head coach Danny Stenz said. “They boxed out better than they have all year.”

According to Stenz, the bounce-back wins came just in time for Marengo Academy (15-7, 9-3), which heads to Marion Military Institute today to compete in region tournament play.

The Longhorns, who enter the seven-team bracket as the No. 2 seed, will face Patrician Academy in the first round. Even though the Longhorns have defeated PA three times already this season, Stenz knows his team is headed into dangerous waters.

“They can always overlook them. That’s what happened against Lowndes,” Stenz said.

“This is new life for a team like Patrician,” assistant coach Eddie Edwards said.

The possibility of being upset is not lost on the Longhorn players, who cite the defeat against Lowndes as evidence of their need for focus.

“They came out and played hard and beat us,” senior John Carlton said. “So you can’t overlook anybody, especially not now because if we lose it is all over.”

Four teams from the regional tournament will advance to Montgomery to compete at the state tournament at Faulkner University which will take place Friday, Feb. 13. In order to be among that quartet, the Longhorns will have to prevail over Patrician for a fourth time.

The Longhorns will likely help their own cause in that regard as their repertoire now features press defenses they have not used in previous meetings with PA.

“It seems to take a toll on opposing teams the second half,” Stenz said of MA’s pressure defense.

Marengo’s success will also be predicated largely on its ability to hit the glass, something with which is has struggled during its losses this season.

“Dustin (McIntyre) and John (Carlton) and Beau (Digmon) have really started picking up their games the last two games,” Stenz said of his trio of senior rebounders. “They have just absolutely denied other teams from getting rebounds.”

That intensity showed itself against Meadowview Friday as McIntyre put up 21 points and grabbed 12 rebounds. Carlton added 14 and 12 in the win. The next night, Carlton finished with 26 points and 13 rebounds in a win over Escambia. Digmon added 12 in that game.

If the group is able to provide that kind of consistency today, Stenz is confident the Longhorns will be making travel plans next week.

“Most of it is execution,” Stenz said. “They know what to do. Whoever wants it the most wins it.”

Marengo takes on Patrician on the floor at MMI at 5:30 p.m.