MARION, Ohio -- Marion Pleasant traveled to Marion Harding on Thursday night and downed the Presidents, 38-34. Moving the Spartans of Pleasant to 2-0 and dropping Harding to 0-3 on the young season.
A sloppy opening quarter where teams couldn’t get settled in and turnovers were an issue led to a 6-5 Pleasant lead through eight minutes. Going to the half the Presidents held a 16-15 lead over Pleasant. Points were not easy to come by as both teams locked in on defense, which led to a couple first half transition buckets off steals.
In the third quarter, defense was once again the common output by both teams, as Ayden Rich of Marion Harding drew multiple jump-ball calls and was a force with the on-ball defense. Tabias Thompson-Reece was there whenever Harding needed a timely bucket adding 12 points off the bench, which led Harding on the night. Through three quarters it was a 26-26 game, as the crowd was every bit into it.
Nick Kimmel led the Spartans with 13 points, scoring from all three levels on the night. With just 30 seconds left Kimmel hit a key three pointer to give Pleasant the lead, one they did not give up the rest of the way. Kimmel forced a crucial turnover with under under 25 seconds to go that allowed Pleasant to finish the game at the free throw line. Patrick Bluebaugh added 11 points on the night including two key free throws to seal the game for the Spartans.
Nick Kimmel (6'1 CG / Marion Pleasant / 2019): The best all-around player on the floor Thursday , Kimmel led the game with 13 points. In my first viewing of Kimmel since his sophomore year, it was clear that he has grown as a scorer. Kimmel plays with a high level of confidence that you want in your senior leader. Kimmel has a smooth release and will fire it from deep as well as looking to score inside and get to the line. Kimmel proved on multiple occasions Thursday that he is a two-way player - taking a timely charge and diving to the floor for a game winning steal, as well as knocking down the go-ahead three with 30 seconds left which sealed the game.
Tabias Thompson-Reece (6’2 CG / Marion Harding / 2020): In his first year getting quality varsity time, Thompson-Reece showed people what he was capable of on Thursday. Coming off the bench and scoring 12 points to lead the Patriots, Thompson-Reece showed off a quick first step and effective spin move to get into the lane. Isolation is a strength in Tabias’ game. At a lengthy 6-foot-2, it’s no problem for him to finish through traffic as well. Thompson brings solid energy off the bench and if he continues to play like he did on Thursday, don’t be surprised to see him in the starting lineup sooner than later. The better his IQ gets will determine how good he can use his strengths.
Ayden Rich (6’2 WF / Marion Harding / 2021): Rich will be a player any coach likes as he has an impressive amount of hustle and grit that you usually don’t see in underclassmen. Rich only scored six points on Thursday, however, he was a force on the glass and on the defensive side of the floor. Forcing multiple jump-ball calls with his hustle, Rich was the first player to the floor on a few occasions, which helped Harding win some of those crucial 50/50 balls. Rich has impressive athletic traits which help him rebound at a high level. Only a sophomore, Rich will need to add more to his offensive game to be a complete player, however, with what we saw on Thursday, we think he has what it takes to be a force within a few years.
Patrick Blubaugh (5’9 PG / Marion Pleasant / 2020): Blubaugh was the floor general Thursday for the Spartans. Lacking height is not an issue for the athletic point guard. Blubaugh kept patience in the offense even through adversity and it finally paid off late in the game. Blubaugh was a quick and pesty defender, proving to be one of the game's best on the defensive perimeter. Blubaugh delivered late in the game with two clutch free throws to help Pleasant take home a tough conference game on the road.