Jayden Bradshaw has only played two games in a Marietta college uniform, but he’s already made a name for himself.
The freshman from Blanchester, Ohio, scored 16 points in the Pioneers’ 83-73 win over La Roche in Saturday’s Shrine Tournament consolation game at Ban Johnson Arena. Marietta (1-1) needed a win after losing Friday’s season-opener to Wisconsin-La Crosse, and Bradshaw’s performance and 18 points, a team-best from Cooper Parrott, helped achieve just that.
“He is unbelievable. I love Jayden Bradshaw” said Parrott. “I love this kid. He works his ass off. He’s nothing but trainable. I only have good words for Jayden.”
Marietta head coach Jon VanderWal manages one of the youngest and most inexperienced teams he’s coached this season, but the talent is undeniable. As folks like Bradshaw continue to rise, the ceiling for this group is high.
“We just have to somehow learn how to win” said VanderWal. “We have a lot of guys out there for the first time. We’re still trying to put this thing together. This season will be a gigantic learning experience. To have these guys win is huge.”
The Pioneers are used to playing for championships, so Saturday’s consolation game was a bit of a twist. Still, Marietta came out energetic and fast, going into halftime with a 42-28 lead.
“It was a good performance” said VanderWal. “The wind really got out of our sails on (Friday) night. Having to play that consolation game at 5 p.m. is not what we imagined or hoped for. We were hoping to play to a full house in the 7 o’clock championship game.
“That being said, I’m proud of our boys for getting up, dusting off and coming to get the job done.”
Marietta took the biggest lead at 9:04 in the second half when Jac Alexander netted for a 68:47. However, La Roche fought back, coming twice in seven, but the Pioneers did what they had to do to secure the win.
“We just have to find our groove” said VanderWal. “We got up at 21 and sort of let them back into the game. We never really got going. Once that thing starts clicking with that group, I think we’re going to be really good.”
Marietta got 12 points from Alexander, nine from Lovenson’s Xavier off the bench, plus eight points and nine rebounds from Sahmi Willoughby. Brennen Crawford also scored eight points.
“Just playing Marietta basketball is key,” said Parrott. “When we start getting bad spells, it’s because guys do things they’re not taught. I think we’re bought in, but sometimes we don’t implement the game plan or don’t listen to the coach as well as we should.
“For me personally, I’m just trying to stay confident. I’ve been beaten up with a knee and a shoulder for the past month and a half. I’m just trying to stay confident and trust myself. I know I put a lot of work into it.”
La Roche (0-3) was led by Jordan Grayson’s game-high 20 points. Devon Darrell added 16 points, six boards and six assists while Joe Pilipo added 14 points. Michael Brooks finished the tournament with nine points and seven rebounds.
Marietta, who travels to Wabash for Friday’s Great Lakes Invitational, shot 45.2% (28 to 62) from the floor and overtook La Roche 42-37.
“The win was huge, but I think the loss (Friday) was just as important for us,” said Parrott. “You want to win every game, but I think we learn more from a game like Wisconsin-La Crosse than we do tonight. We just have to build on that and gain our experience and start coming together.”
Jordan Holland can be reached at [email protected]
Today’s breaking news and more in your inbox