Marion drops double bill at Sterling
Sterling wasn’t the place or opponent for Marion High basketball teams to bounce back Friday from double-digit losses to Council Grove, as the Black Bears beat the girls’ team 51-39 and dominated the boys’ contest 65-38.
“Winning the battle but losing the war” was a repetitive theme for the Lady Warriors, who wanted to get off to a fast start after a lackluster opening against Council Grove.
Marion did just that, nailing its first six shots on the way to a 12-6 first quarter lead. But the tide turned quickly under the pressure of foul trouble and the heat of a frustrating full-court press.
“I was excited for the way we started,” coach Kelly Robson said. “The turning point for us was when Kourtney Hansen and Taelyn Pagel got fouls. Kourtney got two fouls pretty quickly, we were scoring, but she got a couple fouls and that makes our team completely different. When Taelyn goes out, also, that’s another one of the starters, she’s a solid player, and now our bench is shorter immediately. Then they both get a third foul in the second quarter.”
With Hansen, the team’s leading scorer, and steady ballhandler Pagel on the bench, Sterling went on a 32-6 tear to carry a 20-point lead, 38-18, into halftime.
While Robson told the team the odds of a comeback were slim, he charged them to battle back and win the second half.
The message hit home, as Allie Molleker and Hansen traded off scoring in a 10-3 run to open the third quarter. A long-range 3-pointer by Sam Richmond brought the Lady Warriors back to within 10, 41-31. Sterling responded with its first field goal of the quarter, and tacked on 2 free throws to lead 45-31.
Turnovers on four of their first five possessions in the fourth quarter quashed Marion’s hopes as Sterling extended its lead to 49-31. Marion won the battle of the second half, closing the deficit from 20 to 12, but lost the game 51-39.
Hansen topped Marion scorers with 14 points, and Richmond added 10.
The boys stumbled into the slow start the girls had avoided, as the Black Bears sprinted to a 7-0 lead before Nathan Baldwin converted on a pass from Blaine Mermis to put the Warriors on the board. Zachary Stuchlik hit a jumper in the lane and Peyton Heidebrecht knocked down a trey, but Marion trailed 22-8 going into the second quarter.
The Warriors kept pace in the second by spreading the ball around, as six players tallied 16 points. Sterling held a 39-24 advantage at the break.
Evann Heidebrecht provided a spark in the third by drawing a charging foul on Sterling, then racing down court for an acrobatic spinning drive and score. Baldwin hustled back to stuff a Sterling fast break, and two Evann Heidebrecht free throws cut the gap to 49-33.
But Sterling reeled off 14 unanswered points in the final 3 minutes of the quarter to take a commanding 30-point lead, triggering a running clock in the fourth. Marion had little time to make headway against Sterling’s reserves, falling 65-38.
Chase Stringer was high scorer with 8.