High School Boys Basketball

Marlatt, Panthers overcome to advance to regional quarters for 1st time

By Dennis Silva II, Sports Editor
Posted 2/23/21

COLLEGE STATION—Everett Marlatt wasn’t having any of it. The thought of his high school basketball career ending was a non-starter.

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High School Boys Basketball

Marlatt, Panthers overcome to advance to regional quarters for 1st time

Posted

COLLEGE STATION—Everett Marlatt wasn’t having any of it. The thought of his high school basketball career ending was a non-starter.

No. 20 state-ranked Paetow trailed Pflugerville Weiss by a point at halftime of their Class 5A boys basketball area playoff game at A&M Consolidated High School, and the Panthers senior forward wasn’t ready to give in.

“I’m a senior and I didn’t want to go home,” Marlatt said. “That’s the goal, to keep playing, and when it comes to that, you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do to help your team win and put yourself in the best position to keep going.”

Marlatt put actions to words as he scored all of his team-high 10 points in the second half to help the Panthers escape pesky Weiss, 49-43, on Tuesday, Feb. 23, and advance to the regional quarterfinals for the first time in program history.

Paetow improved to 21-1 and overcame a sluggish first half to outlast the Wolves (16-6). Paetow plays the Kingwood Park-Austin McCallum winner in the third round.

“We have a lot of heart,” said Marlatt, who added five rebounds and hit three big free throws in the closing minute. “We were down at halftime, not playing well, and we didn’t get down on ourselves. We came back out, heads up, ready to go.”

In a game where points were at a premium, Paetow compiled 10 team fouls, leading to six Weiss points from the free-throw line, and seven turnovers in the first half. The Panthers were sloppy defensively, with a lot of reaching and grabbing, and got nothing toward the rim offensively in the first two quarters. Four of their eight field goals were 3-pointers.

Still, there was little cause for concern.

“Coach told us we were fine,” junior center Charles Chukwu said of the halftime talk. “We just had to take care of the ball better and be a little bit more disciplined defensively.”

The Panthers’ energy and effort were considerably better in the second half. Defensively, the pushing and pulling stopped. Offensively, buckets were easier to come by thanks to improved ball movement and attacking off the dribble.

It was an effort inspired by Marlatt, who scored five points in the third quarter.

“He’s so coachable that he takes what we say at halftime and just runs with it,” coach Michael Niemi said. “He just wants to win. He’s a competitor. He found his shot, he got to the rim, that spurred his defense. He made some shots and settled in.”

Paetow got out in transition more as well. In their halfcourt offense, after Weiss countered Paetow’s high-post attack by sending more help, the Panthers went more to their wings, who sliced through open gaps with dribble penetration and opened up the floor more.

But it was the defense that made the difference. The Panthers forced 10 turnovers and the Wolves attempted just four free throws in the second half after parading to the foul line early on.

“We’ve been preaching discipline defensively all year, and we picked it up in the second half,” Niemi said. “They wouldn’t let us turn them over as much as we’d normally like so we can get out in transition, so we needed to sit down defensively and not let them get to the rim so easily and contest shots. We did that in the second half.”

Marlatt was the only Panther in double-figure scoring, but junior guard Trevor Frank scored nine points on 3-for-4 3-point shooting, senior guard Jayden McCullough added an explosive nine points and three steals off the bench, and Chukwu finished with powerful nine points and 12 rebounds.

Senior guard Khi Watkins added six points and three rebounds.

“It’s huge for our program,” Niemi said. “We get beat by Manor in the area round last year, come back and beat another Austin area team to get to the quarterfinals. For the program as a whole, it means we’re moving forward. These guys are hungry, and you can tell in practice and shootarounds with their intensity and level of focus. They never think they’re going home after the next game.”

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