SULPHUR — Bolton Fortune’s smile widened.
Discussing a down screen near the free-throw line that freed Chris Campos, Fortune said he relishes that role. His screen allowed Campos to catch the ball near the three-point line at the top of the key. He penetrated, dribbled a couple times and found Trace Stewart on the left wing. Stewart buried the decisive 3-pointer.
Houston Haines and Jakub Sharp each scored two-point field goals for Sulphur, cutting the Bulldogs’ deficit to two and creating a raucous environment.
Marietta, however, converted a sufficient number of free throws to earn a 47-41 win Friday at Sulphur High School.
“I love that part,” Fortune said. “That’s my favorite part. I don’t really care about scoring. I care about getting my teammates points to win the game.”
Fortune missed the last seven games due to an ankle injury, Marietta coach Jared Messer said. The Indians third-year coach expressed happiness to have a healthy Fortune available.
“He (Fortune) came in and played as if he hadn’t been out at all," Messer said. "He’s only practiced a couple times.
“He hit a big shot as soon as he got in. His defense, his effort, that’s what we were missing and he brought it back."
Marietta (16-7) shot 4 of 7 from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter to rebuff Sulphur's rally bid. Haines scored from the right block with 1:24 remaining. Twenty-seven seconds later, he stripped Marietta's Trey Mayes, who was dribbling near the half-court stripe. Sharp picked up the ball and converted an uncontested layup. The noise reached a crescendo.
Marietta was unperturbed.
With roughly half a minute remaining, Fortune hit the second free throw, improving the Indians’ lead to 44-41.
Sulphur (11-6) junior guard Dawson Muck threw an errant pass from the right wing as he tried to connect with Haines.
The Bulldogs took a timeout with 23.90 seconds to play. A Sulphur player fouled Campos, who hit the first free throw with 22.93 seconds remaining. The senior guard — who scored a game-high 17 points — missed the second free throw, but the rebound deflected off a Sulphur player’s hand. The Bulldog stood to Campos’ left, the third person on the left side of the lane. With about 20 seconds remaining, after drawing another foul, Campos missed the first free throw.
But Sulphur’s Jared Williams traveled.
With 4.52 seconds to play, a Sulphur player fouled Fortune, who dribbled back toward the midcourt stripe after Campos’ pass to Fortune advanced the ball into the frontcourt.
Fortune bounced home the first free throw and swished the second charity toss to conclude the scoring.
Muck’s 3-pointer rimmed out.
Marietta took a 26-17 lead into halftime because the Indians shot 7 of 13 from three-point distance.
Unofficially, Sulphur shot 3 of 10 from behind the arc in the second half.
Haines’ hoop with 2:26 remaining in the third quarter gave Sulphur a 34-33 lead with 2:26 to play.
Fortune answered at the 51-second mark. On the Bulldogs’ ensuing possession, Marietta’s Trace Stewart deflected an alley-oop pass, which led to a steal.
With roughly 5:30 to play in the final period, Campos buried his final 3-pointer — he converted four — to give Marietta a 40-37 advantage, a lead it wouldn’t relinquish.
“We’ve kept improving all year on keeping our composure," Messer said. "We’ve had a few games where we let it get away from us, but (Friday night), we finally finished one off on the road. That feels good.”
“I’m proud of my team. That’s a big win for us. Hopefully we can use this going into the playoffs.”
Said Fortune, “It was pretty physical. It’s fun, though. It was pretty amazing. It was a heck of a game. It was crazy and loud.”
Marietta 9 17 9 12 — 47
Sulphur 11 6 17 7 — 41
Marietta: Chris Campos 17, Trey Mayes 11, Trace Stewart 9, Bolton Fortune 8, TaGunn Matthews 2.
Sulphur: Houston Haines 12, John Jacobs 11, Jacob Farrell 6, Jared Williams 6, Breazen Flood 2, Dawson Muck 2, Jakub Sharp 2.
Marietta: 9 (Campos 4, Stewart 3, Mayes, Fortune)
Sulphur: 5 (Jacobs 3, Williams 2).