The Marion High School girls’ basketball team played its best half of the season Friday at Bennington, but it wasn’t enough to prevent a heartbreaking 51-45 overtime loss to the Lady Bulldogs.
Senior Whitney Gordon dominated the first quarter Friday at Bennington, scoring all 11 Lady Warrior points and wreaking havoc defensively with blocked shots and steals.
Gordon’s teammates followed her lead in the second quarter, allowing the Lady Bulldogs only 1 point while scoring 16 of their own. Marion ended its most impressive half of the season with a commanding 27-6 lead.
“At that point, I was thiking we were in pretty good shape, but I was nervous,” Marion head coach Randy Savage said.
In the third quarter, Gordon and Katey Ehrlich both picked up their fourth fouls and sat down with 2 minutes, 20 seconds remaining. While Gordon was scoreless in the quarter, Megan Richmond canned two long 3-pointers, Erin Meierhoff picked up 2 points on free throws, and Ericka Herzet hit a follow shot to maintain a comfortable 37-19 advantage at the end of the period.
In the fourth quarter, the wheels came off the Marion bus.
The Lady Bulldogs applied full-court pressure that vexed Marion ball handlers, and Bennington turned those miscues into points. Marion was hampered even more when Ehrlich went to the bench at 3:02 after taking a tumble on a fast break.
Marion went to the free throw stripe 8 times, but made just 1 charity. The offense that scored 27 in the first half managed only one fourth quarter basket by reserve Julia Hall at 7:05.
Senior Addy McCall completed the improbable Bennington comeback by sinking two free throws to tie the score at 40 with only :12 remaining. Gordon fouled out of the game on the play that sent the game to overtime.
Marion reserves were forced to carry much of the load when both Meierhoff and Ehrlich joined Gordon on the bench with their fifth fouls midway through overtime. A basket by Corey Shields had Marion within 2 points, 45-47, with just over a minute to play, but a turnover and two missed free throws allowed Bennington to escape with the 51-45 win.
“We just couldn’t call enough time outs to calm them down,” Savage said. “We need to play with a little more poise and look to score on offense. We either shot really fast and didn’t get a good shot.”
Turnovers were the main contributor to Bennington’s fourth-quarter surge, Savage said.
“We turned it over 22 times against a team that doesn’t run the press as well as Ell-Saline, when we only had 7 turnovers,” Savage said.
Poor free throw shooting continued to plague the Lady Warriors, who made just 9 of 23 attempts for the game. It wasn’t the first game Marion lost at the charity stripe, Savage said.
“Just 14 points on the free throw line would have gotten us five more wins this season,” Savage said.
Marion was in action Tuesday at Inman, and will get the chance Friday to avenge their loss to the Lady Bulldogs when Bennington comes to USD 408 Sports and Aquatics Center.