Predicted bad weather moved game times earlier when Marion traveled to Bennington on Friday, but the biggest chill came in the boys’ game, where the Warriors’ offenses never got on track in a 68-37 loss. The girls fared better, using an early run to establish a lead they never relinquished in a 34-26 win.
The Bulldogs took the opening tip of the boys’ game, and J.J. Allen scored underneath the bucket. It was a harbinger of things to come, as all game long Bennington worked free in the lane and down low for high percentage easy baskets.
Nathan Baldwin and Evann Heidebrecht responded immediately with baskets for Marion, tying the score at 4. The Warriors were within 10-8 when Bennington reeled off 6 consecutive points, but Blaine Mermis scored on an assist from Heidebrecht to pull Marion to within 16-10 at the quarter break.
The second quarter proved decisive, as Bennington took advantage of a Marion dry spell by adding treys to their repertoire, 3 in total. The Bulldogs outscored the Warriors 18-8 to lead 34-18 at the half.
Cold shooting plagued the Warriors at the outset of the third quarter, while the Bulldogs’ relentless attack continued to pile up points inside and out as they pulled away for the 31-point win.
Zachary Stuchlik scored 13 to lead Marion.
Coming off a loss, coach Kelly Robson wanted his girls’ team to start out strong, and that they did.
Marion’s best offensive performances have been keyed by its defensive tenacity, and Friday was no exception. Bennington had more turnovers than points in the early going as Marion took a commanding 13-1 lead. The Bulldogs finally scored from the field in the waning moments of the first quarter, but the Lady Warriors held a 15-5 lead going into the second quarter.
From that point forward, Bennington settled in and Marion cooled off to make it an evenly-matched ride the rest of the way. The Bulldogs crawled back to within 7 in the final quarter, but got no closer.
Robson said that his team may have lost some intensity, but attributed that to Bennington’s deliberate style of play.
Kourtney Hansen led Marion scorers with 17.
The girls kicked off play in the Centre invitational tournament by running roughshod over cross-county foe Peabody-Burns 58-22, while a huge 40-point second half for the boys fell just short of what they needed in a thrilling but disappointing 61-58 loss to Elyria Christian.
The Centre tournament continues Friday, and wraps up Saturday. Opponents and game times were not available as of press time.