By Joseph Hayes
MARINE CITY — It felt like the first game of the postseason.
For four quarters, the Marine City and Marine City Cardinal Mooney boys basketball teams battled for local bragging rights among two of the top teams in the area.
And after four quarters, each team felt more prepared heading into next week’s district round.
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Marine City would ultimately earn a hard fought, 65-49, victory over Cardinal Mooney to stay unbeaten at home on the season.
Angelo Patsalis led the way for Marine City (15-4) with a game-high 18 points, followed by Johnny Mistretta’s 17 points and 14 points from Jack Kammer as the Mariners improved to 9-0 at home.
“It’s easier to play when you are trusting your teammates,” Patsalis said. “You can drive and trust your teammates on the outside. We move that ball around and it’s hard in the zone because you are moving back and forth.”
Nick Bastian scored 14 points for Cardinal Mooney (13-7) and Nolan Julio added 11 points.
“It’s been our game-plan all year to play bigger opponents,” Cardinal Mooney coach Mike McAndrews said. “We had 19 games against bigger schools and we ended up with 13 wins. That’s a pretty big accomplishment for us. We want to rely on that now. It doesn’t do us any good to have those experiences and then take any opponent lightly.
“Now is the time to use these types of battles to our advantage when we come across teams we are athletically superior than.”
The first quarter was highly contested, featuring plenty of back and forth action.
Patsalis would hit a 3-pointer just as the quarter concluded to give the Mariners a 23-17 advantage.
That lead continued to grow in the second quarter as Marine City began to get into a rhythm while Cardinal Mooney settled into a zone defense.
The Mariners led 27-18, 37-26 and 39-26 with just over two minutes remaining in the first half, before taking a 42-29 advantage into the break.
In the third quarter however, the Cardinals responded by opening with a 4-0 run, to pull within 42-33.
But Marine City would come right back with an 8-0 run of its own, to take a commanding 50-33 lead with 4:12 left in the third period behind its hot shooting and fast break offense.
Marine City would lead 58-42 entering the fourth quarter and continued to ride the advantage during the waining moments of the game.
“We were really stressing to slow the ball down and move it to side to side and make them work tonight,” Marine City coach Scott Hand said. “We were looking for good shots and we didn’t want to rush it.”
Marine City will be at St. Clair for districts next week while Cardinal Mooney will travel to Deckerville.