For the first time this season, the Marion High School Lady Warriors matched their will to win with on-court execution Saturday, and it paid off with a solid victory over White City, 36-29, in the Cougar Classic tournament at Centre.
“It’s a whole lot happier locker room,” Marion head coach Randy Savage said. “None of them like to lose, and several take it very hard all the time.”
Marion opened the game as they have in prior losses, jumping out to a quick lead and then falling behind.
Whitney Gordon scored on a pull-up jumper and a put-back to give Marion a 4-0 lead, but the Lady Warriors went cold from the field as White City responded with a 9-0 run. Kaelyn Thierolf scored at the end of the quarter to trim the Lady Huskies’ lead to 3, 9-6.
“I was pretty nervous in the second quarter, because most of the time we’ve folded up after that,” Savage said.
This time, Savage had no cause to worry. After baskets by Katey Ehrlich and Gordon, Thierolf scored on a layup following a steal to put Marion back into the lead, 16-15. A late surge gave White City a 21-16 lead at halftime, but the Lady Warriors were within striking distance.
An Ehrlich layup, a Gordon free throw, and a basket by Erin Meierhoff brought the Lady Warriors even at 21 less than two minutes into the second half. Scoring was low, with both teams emphasizing deliberate play on offense, and they entered the fourth quarter still tied at 25.
Ehrlich scored quickly to open the final period on a baseline jumper, and Meierhoff banked home a shot from the perimeter to open up a 29-25 lead for Marion.
White City drew back to within two, 31-29, on a score by Alexis Campuzano with 5 minutes remaining. It was the last time the Lady Huskies scored in the game, as they missed on their final four attempts.
Gordon provided the scoring as Marion spread the floor to take time off the clock, and the Lady Warriors celebrated their first victory, 36-29.
“It seems like when we run that motion offense, we tend to get closer and closer together. We told them to get wide — when we tell them that, they run it well, Savage said. “I thought they handled it very well.”
“I was happy for them. They needed to win,” Savage said. “It’s hard for kids to understand how progression works, and that’s where we are — we’re still learning the game with most of the girls.”
Gordon, the only Lady Warrior senior, led the team in scoring with 16 points. Thierolf and Ehrlich each tallied 8, and Meierhoff scored 4.
“I think we can win every game we play. If we take care of the ball and hit some shots, we can make it more interesting than people might think.” Savage said. “That’s why they turn on the scoreboard.”
The Lady Warriors lost Friday to Wakefield in the second round of the Cougar Classic, 37-32.
Ehrlich led Marion scorers with 12 points, followed by Gordon with 9, and Meierhoff with six.
The Lady Warriors will take to the courts again Thursday when they host Council Grove at USD 408 Sports and Aquatics Center.