After the Marion boys’ basketball team lost its only game in the Marion Classic Saturday, head coach Jeff McMillin said the three-game tournament was representative of an entire season.
“It was pretty symbolic of how a whole season is,” he said. “You have ups and downs, but you just try to keep as even-keel as possible, come back, and keep improving.”
The Warriors began the tournament with wins against Berean Academy and Belle Plaine, finally losing to Eureka in the final.
Warriors overcome deficit, defeat Berean
The first quarter of Marion’s opening game against Berean resembled most of the season opener against Southeast of Saline. After Tim Knolla made a 3-pointer on Marion’s first possession, Berean caught fire, making four threes while scoring 16 unanswered points. Berean finished the game shooting 9-of-17 from the three.
Knolla finished the first quarter as Marion’s sole scorer, finishing a three-point play after driving the lane and being fouled.
Trailing 16-6 at the start of the second quarter, Marion began to find its stride offensively, with points coming from Knolla, Grif Case, James Jones, Taylor Heidebrecht, and Jacob Baldwin. Marion outscored Berean 15-9, only trailing 25-21 at halftime.
McMillin said the boys did a good job of not trying to do too much to get back into the game, and continuing to play their own style of defense.
Marion continued chipping at the Berean lead in the third quarter, with Zach Robson making a jump shot in the lane, followed by a Jones free throw.
Berean made a layup afterward, pushing the lead back to three, but Heidebrecht soon after neutralized that score with his only 3-point make of the game. Knolla and Robson each made floaters, but a buzzer-beating three from Berean tied the game at 31 going into the fourth quarter.
Tied 36-36 in the final period, Marion pulled ahead after Robson made a floater, followed by two free throws from Case. Knolla made a free throw after a Berean timeout to put Marion up five, but a three from Berean’s David Ladwig closed the gap at 41-39.
Berean brought the score within one, making another three after two Robson free throws. Heidebrecht made one more free throw to give Marion a 44-42 lead, and ultimately, the victory.
T. Knolla, 17 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists; T. Heidebrecht, 6 points, 3 assists; Z. Robson, 10 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals; G. Case, 4 points, 3 rebounds; J. Jones, 5 points, 6 rebounds, 2 blocks; J. Baldwin, 2 points, 1 rebound.
Fast start leads to win against Belle Plaine
The Warriors began just as fast against Belle Plaine as they did slow against Berean, scoring 10 points before the Dragons got on the board. Marion led 16-5 at the end of the first quarter.
The second quarter was more even between the teams, the Warriors scoring through Jones, Case, Baldwin, and Robson. Marion took a 28-17 lead into the half.
Belle Plain came within five points in the third quarter, but a field goal by Case and a three from Robson extended the lead to 10, 33-23. Those two shots started a 15-4 Warrior run, from which Belle Plaine would not recover. Leading 43-27 at the start of the fourth quarter, the Warriors outscored Belle Plaine 18-11, winning the game 61-38.
Marion shot 51 percent from the field while holding Belle Plaine to 33 percent.
M. Pederson, 2 points; T. Knolla, 7 points, 2 rebounds; T. Heidebrecht, 9 assists, 4 points, 4 rebounds; Z. Robson, 7 points, 6 rebounds, 7 assists; G. Case, 16 points, 4 rebounds; J. Jones, 10 points, 4 rebounds, 1 block; Brett Voth, 3 points, 2 rebounds; J. Baldwin, 12 points, 6 rebounds.
Warriors topped by Eureka in championship
The final game of the tournament was one in which the boys rarely led, but kept the contest tight to the end.
The Warriors began the game taking a 1-0 lead when Knolla made a free throw after a foul. Eureka scored the next four points during an 11-4 run that gave it a permanent lead.
Jones scored six in a row for the Warriors though, once on a back door cut, then twice from offensive rebounds. Free throws from Baldwin and Brett Voth brought Marion within three at the end of the quarter, 13-10.
Robson brought the Warriors within on at the start of the second quarter, making a jump shot in the paint, but the Tornadoes then scored five in a row, taking an 18-12 advantage.
Marion continued attacking the basket and getting to the free-throw line to keep the score close at halftime, 24-21.
The game’s turning point came at the beginning of the third quarter when Eureka went on an 11-2 run, taking a 35-23 lead into a Marion timeout.
McMillin said the Tornadoes were more aggressive than the Warriors on both ends of the court.
“They took us out of a lot of what we wanted to do,” he said.
Out of the timeout, the Warriors scored seven consecutive points on a three from Heidebrecht and inside scores from Robson and Jones, but the comeback would fall short. An 11-3 run that led into the fourth quarter all but ended the game. The Warriors lost 53-39.
“They’re a good team,” McMillin said. “There’s a lot of people that are feeling OK that we hung with them, but with our expectations, we thought we should win.”
T. Knolla, 1 point, 1 assist, 1 rebound; T. Heidebrecht, 3 points, 2 assists; Z. Robson, 9 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists; G. Case, 5 points, 3 rebounds; J. Jones, 12 points, 4 points, 2 blocks; B. Voth, 6 points, 3 rebounds; J. Baldwin, 3 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist.