An elite Southeast of Saline boys’ basketball squad strung together 7 points in the final minute of the first half of Friday’s opener and never looked back, leaving Marion in the dust for a 53-31 win.
“They were a good team,” Marion head coach Jeff McMillin said. “Early on when we had good energy and we weren’t gassed, we did a pretty good job of being where we were supposed to be. Once we stared getting tired, they had a lot of room to work and started to exploit us.”
The Warriors hung with the Spartans for most of the first half, ending the first quarter tied 9-9 then pulling within 3 points at 20-17 against the state-ranked squad. The Spartans used their size and shooting to overwhelm the Warriors late in the period, however, and would finish the game on a 33-14 run.
McMillin cited the team’s shortage of depth as a main issue that led to the Warriors wearing out, despite praising its depth preseason.
Nicholas Stuchlik led the Warriors with 10 points and 4 rebounds, and balanced contributions from other players filled out the scoring. Sophomore Jack Schneider scored 6, while juniors Mason Pedersen and Peyton Heidebrecht, along with sophomore Zachary Stuchlik, added 5 each.
McMillin was encouraged by the Warriors’ effort in the first half, specifically citing improvement of the sophomores.
“Zachary Stuchlik and Jack both played very well tonight,” McMillin said. “The incremental jump of those two has just been big, so hopefully that continues.”
McMillin said he hopes to see his team bring similar energy when playing against lesser competition at this week’s Marion Classic.
Marion plays its first of two pool play games Thursday against Belle Plaine before facing Remington on Friday.