Times Sports Editor
TERRE HAUTE -- An Illinois high school basketball team has never taken home the championship from the Pizza Hut Wabash Valley Classic.
However, in its first game of this year's tournament, Marshall confirmed its role as one of the favorites for the 2007 trophy.
The Lions came out firing early, chalking up 27 first quarter points and cruising in the second half to a 73-44 win over Northview.
Knights' coach Mitch Lancaster could really only shake his head after the Lions put on a convincing performance in improving to 10-1 overall this year.
"This is the worst defeat we've had in my career, here at Northview," said Lancaster in his sixth-season with the Knights. "We're going to try and bounce back and remember some of the good things we've done this year."
Actually a 67-27 loss to Bloomington South during the 2005-06 season is the worst loss, but still, this likely qualifies as a game the Knights would like to put in the rearviewmirror.
Marshall came out firing despite the early 11:30 a.m. tip-off. The Lions jumped out to a 24-8 lead in the first quarter before 3-pointers from Austin Akers and Jered Timm along with four points from Nick Lancaster eventually closed the gap to 29-23 early in the second quarter.
Marshall's dynamic twins, Logan and Lucas Eitel combined for 15 first quarter points and sophomore Taylor Duncan added a pair of 3-pointers and led the team with 10 points in the opening quarter.
After clawing back to within six, Marshall got back to business, spreading the floor against the Knights and taking full advantage of its eye opening passing for easy lay-ins.
The frenetic first half pace slowed considerably to open the second half, neither team scoring until 3:35 had already run off the third quarter clock.
Travis Johnson hit a short jumper at the 4:25 mark for Marshall and Alex Bullock followed with a bucket before Logan Eitel's hoop pushed the lead to 46-29.
A 3-pointer from Austin Akers and a driving lay-in didn't do much to dent the Marshall lead for the Knights.
Northview hit only two-of-11 from the field in the quarter as Marshall outscored the Knights 15-5 to lead 55-34 heading into the final period.
The Knights cut down on the Lions open looks from the perimeter during the second half, but the Lions' athleticism allowed them to spread out the Knights and drive the basket while looking for open teammates when Northview helped on defense.
"You have to tip your cap to Marshall," commented Lancaster. "In an open court situation we couldn't guard them. That's a very motivated Marshall team.
Logan Eitel had double-figure assists to go with his 17 points and his brother Lucas added another 17, hitting all eight of his free throws. Duncan added 14 for the Lions and Bullock contributed six.
The Marshall lead would remain in the 20-point range until the midway point of the fourth quarter when Northview went to its bench, replacing all five starters.
Afterwards, Lancaster pointed towards Marshall's quickness as a main reason his team fell behind.
"That's a team that is very hard to guard," said Lancaster. "They hit the open man and its hard to simulate them in practice. They create a lot of match-up problems."
Akers led the Knights with 11 points and Nick Lancaster, Clint Reynolds and Timm all had seven points. Caleb Whitman led the squad with six rebounds.
With the loss, Northview returns for a 10 a.m. game against Riverton Parke in the losers' bracket. The Panthers (3-4) dropped a 39-38 decision to South Vermillion (1-6) in the tourney opener. The Lions will take on the Wildcats at 1 p.m.
At T.H. North High School
Pizza Hut Wabash Valley Classic
Timm 3-7 0-0 7, Akers 4-12 0-1 11, Whitman 1-3 1-2 3, Reynolds 2-5 2-2 7, Coltharp 2-6 1-2 5, Lancaster 3-9 0-0 7, Duncan 1-2 0-0 3, Bradshaw 0-0 1-2 1, Kirby 0-1 0-0 0, Robertson 0-0 0-0 0, T.Lancaster 0-1 0-0 2. Totals: 16-46 5-11 44.
Marshall, Ill. (73)
Logan Eitel 7-12 2-4 17, Johnson 4-7 1-2 11, Lucas Eitel 4-10 8-8 17, Bullock 4-8 0-0 8, Duncan 4-8 4-4 14, Wolter 3-5 0-0 6, Burnam 0-2 0-0 0, O'Rourke 0-1 0-0 0, Morey 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 27-53 15-18 73.
3-point fieldgoals -- Nv 7-24 (Akers 3-10, N.Lancaster 1-3, Reynolds 1-4, Timm 1-2, Whitman 0-1, Duncan 1-2, Kirby 0-1, T.Lancaster 0-1), Mar 4-20 (Logan Eitel 1-3, Lucas Eitel 1-5, Duncan 2-5, Bullock 0-4, Johnson 0-2, O'Rourke 0-1). Total Rebounds -- Nv 23 (Whitman 6), Mar 30 (Wolter 7). Total Fouls -- Nv 15, Mar 13. Fouled out -- Nv (Coltharp). Turnovers -- Nv 15, Mar 9.