The Marion High School Lady Warriors started and finished strong Friday in their season-opening home game against Trinity Catholic of Hutchinson. But they couldn’t take care of the middle, falling to the Lady Celtics 45-43.
Whitney Gordon, Katie Ehrlich, and Megan Richmond provided the firepower in an opening run that built a 10-0 Marion lead.
“I knew Hutch Trinity was good enough it wasn’t going to stay that way,” Marion head coach Randy Savage said.
The Lady Warrior defense was difficult at first to solve for Trinity Catholic. The Lady Celtics didn’t get their first points until Ashley Zrubek sank two free throws with one minute, 25 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
Zrubek’s points ignited a devastating 25-6 run through the remainder of the first half, fueled by a full-court press that created problems for the Lady Warriors.
“When Trinity went to their full court press, we got rattled by that a little bit,” Savage said. “The press speeded us up in all phases of the game more than we wanted.”
Trailing 25-16 at the half, Marion recovered from the Lady Celtic blitz to stay close through the third quarter. A steal by Erin Meierhoff at 4:03 led to a Kelli Hess putback basket that narrowed the deficit to 32-24, but by the end of the quarter Trinity Catholic extended their lead to 38-26.
The Lady Celtics appeared ready to cruise to a comfortable double-digit win leading 45-32 with just over one minute remaining. Marion had a different ending in store.
Ehrlich nailed a 3-point shot from the top of the key. Richmond stole the ball and Hess scored. When Hess made a free throw with 28 seconds remaining, the lead was cut to 45-38.
Gordon keyed a fast break that led to another Hess basket, and Richmond hit a 3-point shot as time expired with the furious Lady Warrior rally falling just two points short of sending the game to overtime.
“They don’t show quit,” Savage said. “I really like this set of girls — they don’t expect to lose, ever.”
The final scoring rally put Hess at the top of Marion scorers with 12 points, followed by Richmond with 10, and Gordon with 7. Savage said this could be Gordon’s lowest total of the season.
“I don’t think that will be the norm,” Savage said. “We just need to iron out where she’ll be and get the ball to her more.”
Marion will open play in the Marion Classic basketball tournament Thursday at 7 p.m. against Berean Academy at Marion Sports and Aquatics Center. The Lady Warriors will play Friday at 7 p.m. against Eureka. The outcome of those games will determine Marion’s opponent and game time Saturday.