Heading a 1-2-2 zone defense, Tyler Maryanski anticipated the Buffalo Grove pass, intercepted it and dribbled downcourt for the tomahawk slam.
"I think the team really uses that as a boost every game, so hopefully I can get some more for us," said the 6-foot-4 senior forward from Marmion.
If Maryanski can dunk every game that'd be swell. Marmion coach Ryan Paradise will settle for the defense and rebounding the Cadets showed Saturday in a 68-52 nonconference win on the road.
Starting in a man-to-man then shifting mainly to a 1-2-2 and 2-1-2, Marmion (5-9) forced the Bison into 19 of 50 shooting from the floor, including 1 of 14 in a third quarter where the separation truly began.
Led by Danny Bicknell's 13 rebounds, Maryanski's 7 and 6 by Jordan Glasgow, the Cadets out-rebounded Buffalo Grove 40-24 including 13-7 on the offensive end.
"Tyler got a bunch, Danny got a bunch, Jake (Esp) got some offensive rebounds as well, and that's where we get good looks," Paradise said. "We didn't turn it over and we got extra possessions."
Rebounding? Defense? That's not what stuck in Buffalo Grove coach Keith Peterson's craw.
"I honestly think it was our effort," he said of his Bison, who dropped to 5-9 in their first game since going 2-2 at the Elgin Holiday Tournament. "In the first half I didn't think we came ready to play. I don't think we really had the mentality."
Esp displayed a scorer's mentality straightaway. The 6-foot-5 junior, all-tourney at DeKalb, scored 9 of his game-high 22 points in the first 3:20 to give Marmion a quick 11-5 lead.
"They weren't hitting from the perimeter early so we went zone and tried to really clog up the lane," Paradise said.
With Peterson subbing quickly and liberally -- he used all 13 players on his roster trying "to find a spark," he said -- Andrew Apel and Buffalo Grove scooted back within 18-14 after one quarter, down 35-30 by halftime. Senior guard Scott Smithern scored all 10 of his points with 2 of his 4 steals in the first 16 minutes.
Marmion didn't tear it up in the third quarter, but moving from man to zone defenses kept the Bison quiet for minutes at a time.
"We really just started putting that in this week," Maryanski said. "We only had two practices all week so really being able to play that, being able to adjust, we were able to switch defenses pretty quickly."
The Cadets led 48-34 entering the fourth quarter, then the starting lineup of Esp, Maryanski, Glasgow, Bicknell and Mike Sheehan countered a full-court press to make 12 of 17 free throws to maintain the margin. Marmion made 22 of 35 free throws for the game.
"The second half we definitely didn't show enough maturity against their zone, is what it came down to," Peterson said. "We were rushing to try to get our own shot instead of trying to get our team a shot. You can't beat a zone that way."
Maryanski scored 14 for Marmion, Sheehan with 12. Buffalo Grove senior guard Apel scored 11 points, forward Joey Domingo added 8 and Danny Marchiafava came off the bench for 7.
St. Charles East 49, Evanston 44: St. Charles East opened its new year with a 49-44 victory at home Saturday night over Evanston.
The Saints evened their record at 8-8 behind 19 points from Amanda Hilton and Kyra Washington's 13 points.
"We had it drawn up right in the huddle, we knew what we needed to do, we just didn't execute how we wanted to," Apel said. "And then when we got some of the shots we did want they just didn't seem to fall for us tonight. It became frustrating but we're going to keep working at it, and if we see a zone down the road we'll just improve."