MORRISTOWN - Tanner Filben, like the majority of his John Marshall teammates Friday, suffered through an early rash of brick-itis.
The Monarchs trailed early 16-6, twice went more than 4 minutes without scoring and if not for 10 first-half points from Evan Magers, would have trailed by much more than 22-20 at the half.
JM coach Bill Storm faulted the day off of school and late rising of some his players for their lethargic effort early.
UNION LOCAL’S Gavin Porter goes up for a shot against a John Marshall defender during Friday’s game in Morristown.
But when Filben finally awoke from his walking slumber, there was little homestanding Union Local could do to quiet him down.
Filben scored 17 of his team-high 20 points in the second half as JM stormed back and withstood a late Jets push for a 59-54 victory.
"We weren't ready to play," Storm admitted. "Take nothing away from UL because they are well coached, made some shots and played hard but we didn't have school today and we held a shootaround at 12:30 p.m. and I'd hoped that would have snapped the kids out of that lethargy, but it didn't.
"I told them at halftime that once the ball start going in, everything gets better and Tanner missed some shots in the first half, but he hit a couple shots and his confidence came back."
Filben canned four 3-pointers, but it was the game's final 1:12 where the Monarchs lone non-senior starter really shined.
It started with a short jumper with 1:05 left that put JM up 57-54.
UL worked to get the ball into the capable hands of senior Jacob Bailey, who at that point, had scored 27 points and nailed five triples.
Bailey went up for a shot but Filben came away with the ball, stripping Bailey and working the ball down court.
The Monarchs were unable to capitalize as the Jets were able to force a jump-ball and owned the possession.
Not deterred, Filben again came up with another steal, this time drawing a foulr with less than 20 seconds remaining.
With a chance to ice the game, Filben canned two shots on a one-and-one trip to the line.
A deep two from Gavin Porter missed, JM grabbed the rebound and the clock rang out for the Monarchs third win in five attempts.
Filben was backed by 16 points and seven rebounds from Magers, whose aggressive play in attacking the basket finally got the Monarchs' sputtering offense clicking.
"I also told them at the half that Evan Magers is a player and we need to get him the ball," Storm said. "I also told Evan that when he gets it, he needs to shot it."
Bailey was certainly shooting it for the Jets. He finished 0 of 14 from the field for 27 points.
But like his JM counterparts, he struggled early, totaling six points at the half and an uncharacteristic 2 of 6 from the line.
Unfortunately for UL, Bailey's teammates weren't fairing much better.
The Jets had early success in forcing turnovers and securing easy transition buckets. The first quarter alone saw three end-to-end steal and lay-in plays from the home team.
But JM eventually started taking care of the ball and became apparent to Jets coach Vaughn Butler that his team was having issues with its half-court offense.
"We're trying to develop some speed and be able to get up and down the floor but we need to get better in our half-court offense," Butler said. "We need to put together four good quarters. We had three, three and a half tonight and that's not going to get it done."
Given the narrow five-point spread of the final score, the Jets' 8 of 17 effort at the stripe didn't help matters either.
"They mixed up their defenses in attempt to slow us down," Butler said. "Defensively, we had some breakdowns and they were able to get some good looks."
The Monarchs finished with nine 3-pointers to Union Local's eight.
Trenton Tipton added 11 points for Union Local, but no other Jet scored more than six points. Of the Jet's 32 second-half points, Bailey and Tipton accounted for all but two of that total.
The Jets (2-4) will look to get back on track when they take on Beallsville while John Marshall plays host to Preston.
Union Local captured the junio varsity showdown, holding on for a 34-32 triumph.
JOHN MARSHALL (59) - Oct 2 0-0 5; Davis 4 0-0 9; Filben 7 2-2 20; Magers 6 1-2 16; Sobutka 2 1-4 5; Kilbert 0 0-0 0; Whitfield 2 0-0 4; Totals: 23-45 4-8 59. UNION LOCAL (54) -McDiffit 1 3-3 6; Tre.Tipton 4 1-2 11; Jones 3 0-0 6; Porter 2 0-2 4; Bailey 9 4-9 27; Dunfee 0 0-1 0; Totals: 19-39 8-17 54.
Three-point Goals: Och, Davis, Filben 4, Magers 3. McDiffit, Tre.Tipton 2, Bailey 5.
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