Jaden Bradshaw has only played two games in a Marietta College uniform, but he’s already making a name for himself.
The freshman from Blanchester, Ohio, scored 16 points in the Pioneers’ 83-73 victory over La Roche in the consolation game of the Schreen Tournament on Saturday at Ban Johnson Arena. After dropping Friday’s season opener to Wisconsin-La Crosse, Marietta (1-1) needed a win, and Bradshaw’s performance, as well as Cooper Parrott’s team-high 18 points, helped make that happen.
“He’s unbelievable. I love Jaden Bradshaw.” said Parrott. “I love that kid. He works his ass off. He’s nothing but a coach. I have nothing but good things to say about Jayden.”
Marietta head coach John VanderWaal leads one of the youngest and most inexperienced teams he’s coached this season, but the talent is undeniable. If guys like Bradshaw step up, the ceiling for this group is high.
“We just have to learn how to win.” VanderWaal said. “For the first time, we have many young people. We are still trying to put this thing together. This season will be one big learning experience. It’s a big thing for these guys to win.”
Saturday’s consolation game was a bit of a whirlwind, as the Pioneers are used to playing for the title. However, Marietta came out strong and up-tempo to take a 42-28 halftime lead.
“It was a good effort.” VanderWaal said. “The wind really took it out of our sails on Friday night. Having to play this consolation game at 5 o’clock is not what we expected or hoped for. We were hoping for a packed 7-hour championship game.
“I’m proud of our guys for getting up and dusting themselves off and getting the job done.”
Marietta took its biggest lead of the game with 9:04 left in the second half when Jack Alexander made a basket to make it 68-47. But La Roche fought back, clawing back two runs in seven, but the Pioneers did what they had to do to get the win.
“We just need to find our groove.” VanderWaal said. “We got up by 21 and put them back in the game. We never really got into a groove. Once that thing starts clicking in this group, I think we’ll be really good.”
Marietta got 12 points from Alexander, nine from the bench from Lovenson Xavier, eight points and nine rebounds from Sahmi Willoughby. Brennen Crawford also had eight points.
“Just playing Marietta basketball is the key.” said Parrott. “When we start having bad spells, it’s because guys are doing things they weren’t taught to do. I think we bought in, but sometimes we don’t follow the game plan and we don’t listen to the coach properly.
“For me, I’m just trying to be confident. I’ve been getting hit in the knee and shoulder for the last month and a half. Just trying to be confident and believe in myself. I know I’ve worked hard for that.”
La Roche (0-3) was led by Jordan Grayson’s 20 points. Devon Darrell had 16 points, six rebounds and six assists, while Joe Pilipo had 14 points. Michael Brooks finished with nine points and seven rebounds.
Heading to Wabash for the Great Lakes Invitational on Friday, Marietta shot 45.2% (28-of-62) from the floor and outrebounded La Roche 42-37.
“The win was huge, but I think the loss (Friday) was important for us.” said Parrott. “You want to win every game, but I think we learned more from a game like Wisconsin vs. La Crosse than we did tonight. We just have to build on that and start gaining experience and coming together.”
Jordan Holland can be reached at [email protected]