Marion defended its home court with tenacity Friday, chalking up two homecoming victories over Ell-Saline.
Trailing 22-20 at the half, the girls slammed the door on Cardinals’ scorers in the third quarter with tight, swarming defense. Ell-Saline’s only bucket of the period came with just 14 seconds left in the quarter, after a 16-0 run put the Warriors ahead 36-22. There was still plenty of time for Kirsten Hansen to drain a 3-pointer before the buzzer, giving Marion a 39-24 lead.
Turnovers and missed shots by the Warriors let the Cardinals cut the deficit to single digits, 45-37, and coach Kelly Robson called time with 1:57 on the clock.
When play resumed, Erika Hess took over for Marion, scoring 8 of the Warriors’ final 10 points, including 6 free throws, to seal a 55-40 win.
Kourtney Hansen led the Warriors in scoring with 20 points.
Ell-Saline entered the boys’ game with just one win on the season, but gave Marion all it could handle before the Warriors broke on top for good on a Mason Pedersen trey, 37-36, with about 6 minutes remaining.
Both teams had trouble finding the mark in the first quarter, with the Warriors clinging to a 9-8 lead. Spurred by a 7-0 run early in the second, the Cardinals took a 22-18 lead into halftime, but Marion closed the gap to 32-31 entering the final period.
After the Warriors regained the lead, scores by Nicholas Stuchlik, Dylan Pippin, and Pederson provided some breathing room, 43-36, as the clock wound down under 2 minutes. Marion was up by 7 when Ell-Saline was slapped with a foul and technical foul with :21 remaining. Pederson hit all four charities to account for the 49-38 final.
Pippin, a strong presence in and around the basket all game long, scored 14 points, and Pedersen dropped in 11.