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By David Pan
Sports editor 

Mariner serving up winning combo of veterans, youth | Boys basketball

Marauders' offense is fueled by tough defense


Last updated 12/11/2019 at 10:55am

David R Pan

Mariner junior forward Henry Avra attempts a free throw during a jamboree contest Saturday, Nov. 30, at Mariner High School.

The Mariner boys basketball team heads into the 2019-20 season with two distinct groups of players.

The Marauders return an experienced core – seniors Simon Fanuel, Tony MacArthur, Diego Septimo-Ruiz and Christopher Herrera and junior Henry Avra – that produced about 80 percent of last year's offense. The rest of the roster is composed largely of players who have little to no varsity experience.

"We literally have two different groups we're trying to mesh together," Mariner coach Tevin Dillon said. "Getting them to mesh is challenging. But the thing is, they're all really close-knit. They all really respect each other. They all work hard."

Not surprisingly, the Mariner offense is already off to a strong start. The Marauders opened with back-to-back victories over Pasco (71-47) and Kennewick (70-61) in nonconference action last week.

MacArthur is confident in Mariner's ability to score points.

"We have people who can get to the hoop," he said. "We have people who can post up. We have all-around scorers. We know we can score."

But as was the case last season, the Marauders prefer to produce their points off their defense.

"We're a fast team," MacArthur said. "If we play good defense, we just get easy buckets in transition. We'd rather do that than sitting in the half court and run offense for 35 seconds. We just need to step up our defense more."

Mariner isn't a team that will shy away from contact.

"We're going to be really physical this year, really athletic," Fanuel said. "We want to be getting out and denying the ball and having help inside will be good."

The message from Dillon to his players is that defense should be the top priority on the court at all times.

"You should be resting on offense, if anything. That's what he tells us," MacArthur said. "Don't rest on defense. Rest on offense. It just is our No. 1 priority."

Mariner's biggest loss from last year was the graduation of the player who directed the offense, point guard Edwin Bouah.

Dillon appears to have settled on freshman Jailin Johnson as Bouah's successor. Johnson ran the team as point guard during the offseason.

"He brings energy," Fanuel said. "He competes. He tries to push the older guys."

Johnson handles the ball well, has a good shot and also is a strong defender.

"He has the keys right now," Dillon said of the freshman standout. "He's a shorter guard (5-foot-9), so scoring over the taller defenders is sometimes a challenge. But he gets the ball moving. He passes the ball really well, which is great because we have a lot of scorers. He's a well-rounded point guard, especially for being a freshman and playing at this level."

Sophomore guard Naser Motley is another new player Dillon expects to be a major contributor on both offense and defense.

Motley and Johnson provide defensive intensity to complement the team's returning offensive firepower.

David R Pan

Mariner senior forward Tony MacArthur drives to the basket.

"Those are two guys that put a lot of pressure on the ball," Dillon said. "So our offense kind of improved. Our defense improved as well because we've got more guys on the defensive side of the ball."

Last year Mariner had to take an extended route to the state regional tournament. The Marauders finished fourth in the league, which meant they had to play in a loser-out game to start off the district tournament. Mariner ended up claiming the fifth and final seed to state.

"We want the top 3 for the league, so we can have an easier run into state," MacArthur said.

Given the assembled talent, Dillon is telling the Marauders they have a big opportunity.

"We have a good group of guys who work hard and who want to win," he said. "I think putting it all together and really working on pushing ourselves and putting in the effort will get us to where we want to be – surpassing what we did last year." 



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