By Bill Baker
Sports Writer

MARIETTA — The Lone Grove Longhorns took a 16-point halftime lead, and then hung on down the stretch, to take a 73-68 Lake Country Conference victory over the Marietta Indians on Monday at Marietta High School.
With the win, Lone Grove improved to 10-11 overall and 7-2 in conference play. The Indians fell to 9-13, 4-5.
Lone Grove used its quickness and hot outside shooting to gain them a double-digit lead in the first half. The Longhorns took a 22-16 lead after the opening period and pushed that advantage to 46-30 at intermission.
Senior forward Brady Norman had the hot hand early with two three-pointers in the first frame. But in the second, it was his fellow senior forward, Nathan Meek, who buried four treys that helped Lone Grove pull away.
“We definitely had to find a way to get a win tonight,” Lone Grove coach Chuck Ryan said. “We had a great first half, but we let our defenses down in the second half and let them back in the game. It’s always tough to go to another team’s gym and get a big win. But tonight we overcame a lot of adversity and came out on top.
“Our focus in the first half was on our defense, and that got away from us in the second half. We need to learn how to keep our focus no matter what is going on around us. We understand we will be able to score a lot of points, but our defensive focus has to remain high in order to keep the other team from gaining an upper hand.”
Marietta rallied with a 17-10 advantage in the third and pulled to within 56-47 at period’s end. In the fourth, the Indians managed to get to within three points at 66-63 following two charity tosses by junior forward Zac Neely. But Lone Grove did a solid job down the stretch at the line to maintain its lead.
“Defensively we did a great job in the second half,” Marietta coach Jared Messer said. “The first half I thought we were extremely lazy on defense, and we let them get too big of a lead on us. We rallied in the second half using our defense as a catalyst. And we gave ourselves a chance to win later in the game.
“But we didn’t have what it took to overcome that big of a lead against a good team.”
Meek led the Longhorns with 21 points, including six three-pointers. Sophomore forward Caleb Norman had 20 points, and Brady Norman finished with 13 points before he fouled out.
Neely had a game-high 22 points, including 10-of-12 from the line, along with 10 rebounds, to lead the Indians. Sophomore forward Trey Mayes had 14 points, and Colton Perry chipped in 12 points with seven rebounds before Marietta’s junior point guard was also disqualified on fouls.