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Marion girls triumph at Centre tourney

Boys take third in Cougar Classic tournament

News editor

It was nip and tuck between Marion and Rural Vista in Saturday’s girls’ championship game of the Cougar Classic at Centre.

And then, it wasn’t.

For two and a half quarters, the Warriors lagged behind the Heat anywhere from 2 to 6 points, trailing 24-21 at the half and 28-24 just 2 minutes into the third quarter.

In under a minute, a score by Kourtney Hansen and two buckets by Courtney Herzet drew the Warriors even at 30-30. The Warriors kept right on rolling with a 9-2 run to end the period, punctuated by a Corinna Crabb 3-pointer.

Jessi Lewman opened the fourth with a free throw and a bucket, and suddenly Marion found itself with a 10-point cushion, 42-32. Scores by Sam Richmond and Crabb gave the Warriors their largest lead of the night, 46-35, and Corin Parmley and Herzet hit free throws down the stretch to secure the championship with a 49-42 victory.

While coach Kelly Robson was pleased with his team’s offensive output, it was their performance playing an unfamiliar zone defense that kept fouls down and created steals the Warriors turned into points.

“When we made that change and they played so hard in that zone, I think we won there,” Robson said. “I don’t want to short our offensive effort, but the girls made adjustments on defense that we haven’t tried to make before, and that just shows the basketball smarts they’ve developed over the years.”

Hansen dropped in 16 points in the win.

The Warriors opened the tournament Thursday with a relatively easy 47-29 win over Wakefield, with Alli Molleker’s 10 points just two shy of Hansen’s game-leading 12.

The Warriors cruised against the host Cougars in a Friday semifinal matchup, 59-31. Herzet caught fire with a late 12-point outburst, and Hansen again led all scorers with 26.

Across all three games, Hansen poured in 54 points, cashing in on numerous fast break opportunities and creating scores inside the lane.

Boys

The Warriors turned in three strong performances in three nights, with wins against Solomon and Rural Vista bookending a hard-fought loss to Centre.

The Warriors had to earn their win in the third-place contest against Rural Vista, clawing back from a 33-28 third-quarter deficit to tie the game a 42-42 going into the final stanza.

While Zackary Stuchlik fueled Marion’s scoring in the first and third quarters, and Chase Stringer the second, it was Sam Zinn who lifted the team in the decisive fourth. Zinn scored 9 of the Warriors’ 20 points in the period, including 5 charity tosses at the end.

Defense also was key, as Marion held Rural Vista to just 4 points in the final 4:30 of the game.

Stuchlik paced the Warriors’ 62-53 win with 17 points, while Stringer and Zinn scored 12 each.

Friday’s semifinal game was a matchup of old Cottonwood Valley League rivals, with the Cougars and Warriors expected to play a tight game.

What wasn’t expected was a blistering point explosion from Centre guard Cole Srajer.

Best buddies with some of the Marion players when he teams up with them for spring baseball, Srajer was the Warriors’ worst nightmare in the first half. Everything from off-balance layups to NBA-range 3-pointers fell for Srajer as he hit for 29 points in just 16 minutes.

The Warriors trailed 49-41 at the half, and while they topped 70 points for a second consecutive game, it was enough only to trim 2 points off the Centre lead in a 77-71 loss.

Stuchlik again led Marion with 19, and Stringer was nipping on his heels with 18. Noah Dalrymple notched 11 and Evann Heidebrect popped in 10.

It wasn’t nearly so close Thursday against Solomon, although one couldn’t tell by looking at the Gorillas’ 30-27 halftime edge.

But the Warriors came out hot in the second half, outscoring Solomon 45-27 to win easily 72-57. As he did in subsequent games, Stuchlik took scoring honors with 19 points.

Last modified Jan. 25, 2018

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