MOUNDSVILLE - There are not many teams that can boast of being 5-for-5 on opening night of the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference boys' basketball tournament.
That it is something that John Marshall coach Bill Storm and his team are very proud of after accomplishing that feat Tuesday night. Unfortunately for the Monarchs, the previous four years have meant a trip to the big school title game, while this time it was a pool play contest.
Senior Justin Wade and sophomore Tanner Filben each dropped in 15 points and John Marshall held off pesky Edison before pulling away in the fourth quarter to claim a 63-51 victory against the Wildcats at the John Marshall Fieldhouse.
While Storm's club has four runner-up trophies in first four years of the event, it improved to 5-13 this time around. Meanwhile, Coach Todd English's Edison team fell to 7-12.
''We have gotten pretty good of winning on Tuesday night during this tournament,'' Storm said. ''And even though it doesn't mean quite as much this time, it is still a good win for us.''
The Monarchs got out of the gates quick, scoring the game's first eight points in 1:12. But with Mark Smyth scoring seven of his game-high 21 points, the Wildcats clawed back to within 15-10 after one.
Edison was not able to grab the lead in the second quarter, however, they did knot the count at 17-17 and then got a late hoop to trail 28-27 at the break.
With the game still close at 37-36, John Marshall got hot, pushing the advantage to 41-36 after three and capping a 14-2 burst with an Evan Magers hoop with 4:57 to play that made it a 51-38 count. The Wildcats, who led only once in the game at 30-29, never got any closer than seven the rest of the way.
''I have shortened the bench late in the season and I think we have a pretty good rotation going right now,'' Storm said. ''We knocked down some 3s early to get a little lead and was able to go inside to Justin (Wade) late to pull away a little.
''I am really pleased with the play of Derek Och, who has battled all year, and is now learning the point guard position. He had a heckuva a game and I think he can be a big asset for us down the stretch.''
Magers finished with 11 points and nine rebounds for the winners while Och added eight points and nine assists. Aaron Fonner also scored eight as the Monarchs got good contributions all the way around. John Marshall had a different player score at least five points in each of the four quarters.
''They played good defense and we were a little impatient on offense at times, but it seems like at some point we have a bad spell that does us in,'' English said. ''Normally it is the second or third quarter, but it has happened before.
''We got in a hole and then we didn't make free throws, which is something we have to find a way to do. We have Oak Glen on Friday night and then the tournament, and we have got to find a way to get the ship righted before then.
''Bottom line is that the kids battled once again, but we came out on the short end.''
Chad Wickham added 11 and Austin Abdalla nine for the Wildcats.