Saturday’s third-place girls’ matchup at Centre’s Cougar Classic was a statement game for two teams that were gaining confidence.
Centre won a down-to-the-wire, 44-43 victory over Marion, which was an important step for the Cougars, Centre coach Alan Stahlecker said.
Centre had just seven players. One was injured early in the game and one fouled out.
“With our limited numbers, the injuries, and foul trouble we’ve experienced, this was truly one of the most remarkable wins I have been associated with,” Stahlecker said. “Our girls played with such tenacity, and they needed to against a wonderful effort by Marion.
“Neither team had a bit of quit in them. While it was a physical game, I believe the competitive nature of this game embodied a lot of good things about high school sports.”
It was a contest fraught with players diving after loose balls, and one from each team fouling out in the second half.
The girls’ determination to keep fighting during a close game showed an important competitive drive, Marion coach Jason Hett said of his team.
“What do we have to do differently to go get a win,” he said. “I’m glad we got to play in this type of game so we could figure some of those things out.”
Getting each player invested in the team is important since it’s Hett’s first year coaching in Marion.
“We talk all the time about building something here,” he said. “This group is special because they’re the first group. They get to lay the foundation.”
Marion had three close games, defeating Herington, 42-41 in the first round and losing to Wakefield on Friday, 40-38.
Centre defeated Elyria in the first round, 33-21, and lost to state-ranked Rural Vista on Friday, 66-40.
saturday’s Scoring summary
Centre: Kelsey Hett, 18; Alyssa Espinoza, 14; Alex Remmers, 8; Samantha Espinoza, 2; and Lili Espinoza, 2.
Marion: Chloe Burkholder, 13; Jayden May, 13; Megan Neufeld, 8; Alfwenna Meyer, 4; Heidi Grimmett, 3; and Abigail Stuchlik, 2.
Centre boys place 3rd
Peabody-Burns didn’t stand a chance against the Cougars in Saturday’s battle for third place.
Centre took a 17-5 lead after one quarter and increased its lead to 34-8 by halftime.
Centre won, 55-22.
“The team came out strong, moving the ball and taking high percentage shots while winning the boards at both ends,” coach Richard Idleman said. “The team shot 72% from the free throw line, which led the team to a solid win and strong finish. I’m pleased with the heart and effort of our team.”
Scorers were Dalton Stika and Braxton Smith, 15 each; Jacob Hird and Jensen Riffel, 7 each; Lane Methvin, 5; Mikey Silhan, 3; Quinten Bina, 2; and Kyle Peterson, 1.
The Cougars defeated Wakefield in the first round, 36-31, and lost to Solomon on Friday, 38-35.
Marion boys get first win
Marion boys team earned its first win of the season Saturday with a 31-30 victory over Wakefield.
The game came with an emphasis on teamwork during timeouts, coach Terry Edwards said.
“I told them we had to attack and play together,” he said. “Once we decided to play together and attack the basket to make easy buckets, things were easier.”
Despite having no players score in double figures, the Warriors had six players score and three tally at least seven points.
Both teams were pressing, but for the Warriors it was a means of slowing Wakefield’s pace, Edwards said.
“If we get ahead by six points and they want to take seven or eight seconds in the backcourt, it just takes time off the clock,” he said. “Make their possessions longer.”
Marion only forced three turnovers, but stifled its opponent most of the game, allowing five points in the first quarter, two in the second, and eight in the fourth.
Marion limited itself to five turnovers on offense, and used a 16-point fourth quarter to get the come-from-behind win.
The Warriors lost to Elyria in the first round, 44-18, and to Herington on Friday, 43-34.
Elyria Christian boys and Rural Vista girls won the tournament.
Scoring summary: Braedon Mercer, 9 points; Tyler Mermis, 8; Seth Lanning, 7; Burton Harshman, 3; Jaxton Tracy, 2; and Campbell Winter, 2.