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Warriors split season opener with SES

Girls prevail, boys drop 54-53 heartbreaker

Staff writer

While shooting 39 percent from the 3-point line is often enough to win a basketball game, it can prove costly at the free-throw line, especially in a tight game.

The Marion Warriors boys’ basketball team found that out the hard way in Friday’s season opener against the visiting Southeast of Saline Trojans.

Marion actually had a chance to distance itself from the Trojans in fourth quarter, but a fatal 3-for-12 shooting from the line, 11-for-28 for the night, helped force overtime where SES hung on for a 54-53 win.

“If we’d have made our free throws, we’d have never been in that situation,” a discouraged Warriors coach Randy Skiles said. “We had a chance to go up by double digits, but four consecutive missed shots, you’re not going to win close games with that.

“I loved our effort, their effort was great. We’re going to get nothing but better and win some games.”

The Warriors were able to use the 3-point line to build a 4-point lead after Eli Hett buried one with 3:46 left in the opening quarter, 9-4.

Hett finished with 10 points, while Chase Stringer scored a team-high 12.

Marion’s defense limited the Trojans to an ugly 3-for-9 shooting the second quarter and 30 percent on the night, stretching its lead as large as 25-16 on a basket by Sam Zinn with 1:31 left in the first half.

The Warriors maintained a 9-point lead through the first 1:30 of the second half before SES staged a comeback.

The Trojans used a Marion scoring lapse which lasted over 4:00 and an 11-0 run to overtake the Warriors at 31-29 with 2:19 to go in the third quarter.

A pair of baskets by Stringer helped the Warriors regain control heading into the final stretch, 36-31, with SES having to contend with a scoring lapse of its own.

Frigid free throw shooting thwarted the Warriors’ attempts to extend the lead any further than two possessions in the first 50 seconds of the fourth quarter as well as the remainder of regulation.

During that time when the Trojans were hit with a second technical foul, 1-for-7 was all the Warriors could muster at the line, keeping SES in Marion’s neighborhood.

Despite shooting over 40 percent for the game, 3-for-9 didn’t offer Marion any favors, either, and SES was able to overtake the lead with just under 2:00 left in regulation on back-to-back threes.

Zach Stuchlik made one of two free throws with 56 seconds left in the fourth quarter for a 45-44 lead, but one from Nick Montgomery 50 seconds later forced the extra session.

With Marion’s best performance at the line coming in overtime on 6-for-8, Stuchlik had a chance to send the game to another period with 11 seconds left.

Trailing by 1, Stuchlik’s second shot bounced off the rim, causing a scrum for the rebound.

The Trojans prevented Marion from getting a good shot off to preserve the win.

Girls

With a solid corps of seniors back from last season’s 15-7 team, an abundance of experience should be a postivie factor for the Lady Warriors this year.

That wasn’t altogether the case Friday, with the Warriors showing early signs of rust, cold shooting, and miseries taking care of the ball.

It took Marion 8 minutes, but the Warriors overcame a shaky start and 19 turnovers for a 40-29 win over the Lady Trojans.

“We’ve got a good group of senior girls,” Warriors coach Kelly Robson said. “We didn’t do anything special, they just settled down and played the way they know how to play.

“My biggest criticism was we didn’t look like five seniors out there sometimes. We looked a little rattled and sometimes not like we have four years of experience.”

That was mainly the first quarter, with the Warriors unable to get over the hill after missing their first four shots and going 2-of-8 from the floor.

Clinging to an 8-5 lead to start the second quarter, the Trojans kept their heads above water for just 33 seconds before Sam Richmond buried a three to spark a 7-0 Warrior run.

SES went unconscious from the floor, cooling to an icy 22 percent by halftime as part of a 2-for-14 display shooting the second quarter.

Kourtney Hansen scored a game-high 13 points, her second basket breaking an 8-8 tie with just over 7:00 left in the first half.

But 32 percent shooting the first half kept the Warriors from extending the lead past 4, going scoreless the final 4:32 while SES knotted the game up at 15 by halftime.

The Trojans stayed on the Warriors’ tail for nearly half of the third quarter until Courtney Herzet fueled a 6-1 burst that helped Marion to a 27-23 lead heading into the last frame.

What gasp of life the Trojans had left, trailing 31-26 with 5:46 remaining in the game, vanished on a 5:38 scoring lapse, which the Warriors used to build a double-digit lead.

Herzet added 9 points, her free throw with 20 seconds left giving Marion its largest lead of the game, 38-26.

The Warriors fared a little better shooting than the Trojans’ 22 percent with 15-for-43 and 35 overall.

Up next for the Warriors is the Marion Classic on Thursday, playing host to Remington, with additional action Friday and Saturday.

Last modified Dec. 7, 2017

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