Their games unfolded in different ways, but at the end of the night Friday, Marion’s boys and girls picked up victories against visiting Ell-Saline.
Collective heroics and a little trickery on defense won out in a nip and tuck battle for the boys, as they escaped with a 56-54 come from behind win.
The lead changed throughout the game like a hot potato contest, and with 1:23 remaining, the Warriors had the ball trailing 54-53.
Seconds later, Mason Pederson spied Peyton Heidebrecht breaking free on a back door cut and threw a perfect pass that Heidbrecht converted into a bucket and a 55-54 lead.
Blaine Mermis was fouled while rebounding a free throw, and hit one from the line to put Marion ahead 56-54 with :38 left.
It was then that coach Randy Skiles pulled a little sleight-of-hand maneuver, switching up the Warriors’ defense as Ell-Saline inbounded the ball.
The Cardinals called time out with :17 seconds remaining, but Marion forced a 3-point shot that missed the mark, and Noah Dalrymple collected the rebound to secure the win.
Pedersen led the team in scoring with 12, followed by Mermis with 11, and Zachary Stuchlik with 10.
The girls got off to a fast start with an unexpected boost from aggressive play from Marissa Jacobson.
The senior had been gradually getting up to speed this season after returning from a year’s absence, but she took charge under the basket, scoring a bucket, rebounding strongly, and dropping in 2 free throws. Combined with a 3-pointer from Sam Richmond, the Warriors had an early 7-2 lead. By the time the Warriors had crafted an 11-5 lead, Jacobsen had another bucket to her credit.
Kourtney Hansen scored twice on turnovers and Allie Molleker converted a bucket and 1 to put Marion up 18-7.
The teams then exchanged runs, with Ell-Saline closing the gap on an 8-1 spurt, and Marion responding with a 7-0 blitz topped off by a Taelyn Pagel trey. Marion took a 26-18 lead into the locker room at the half.
Solid defense gave Marion opportunities on the offensive end to open up a 32-20 lead on a Molleker bucket on an assist from Hansen.
Marion’s lead never dropped below 10 after that, and the Warriors held the Cardinals scoreless in the final two minutes to claim a 48-30 win.
Displaying a knack for inside play as well as fast breaks, Hansen topped Marion scorers with 15, and Richmond dropped in 9.
It was a different story when Remington came to town.
The girls ran into a Broncos buzzsaw, as the visitors breezed to a 51-27 win.
The boys played tough but didn’t have the horses to hang with the Broncos, bowing under 53-44.
The Warriors will hope for good luck when they travel to Bennington for Friday the 13th matchups against the Bulldogs.