Were it not for the Marion boys’ fast and furious fourth quarter rally, No. 4 Sacred Heart would have claimed victory at the end of regulation in Friday’s semifinal game. As it were, the Warriors scored 27 points in the final period to tie the game after entering the fourth quarter down, 42-31. The Marion surge evened the score at 58, sending the game into overtime. But Marion missed shots paired with sure-fire Sacred Heart free-throw shooting down the stretch left the Warriors trailing, 71-65, at the end of overtime.
For all Marion’s intensity in the final quarter, the first three were much the opposite in a game the Warriors never led. The Knights struck first with a basket 15 seconds in, and the Warriors got on the board with a Jacob Harper free throw at 7:10. Neither team found much early success getting shots to fall, but Sacred Heart held a 4-1 lead at the 4:21 mark. Marion’s first basket came halfway through the first quarter when Jordan Hett scored to bring the Warriors within 4-3. Three, three-point baskets helped Sacred Heart gain some distance, but two consecutive Hett baskets narrowed the Knight lead to 15-12 at the end of the first quarter.
Two Warrior missed shots and a turnover helped Sacred Heart build a double-digit, 22-12, lead with 6:32 left before halftime. With the Warriors shooting only 14 percent from the field in the second quarter (1-7), the Knights outscored Marion 11-6 to hold a 26-18 lead at halftime. Marion field goal shooting improved to 43 percent (6-14) in the third quarter. While a Hett three-pointer at 1:24 narrowed the gap to 38-31, a Warrior miss and turnover later allowed Sacred Heart to regain a double-digit, 42-31, lead going into the final quarter.
With the game on the line, the Warriors kicked into high gear in the final quarter. A Harper basket behind the arc just 22 seconds in set the tone, and a Harper steal led to a three-point basket by Ethan Hett at 7:00 to draw within 42-37. Defensive Warrior pressure helped fuel the surge, and Taylor Heidebrecht scored off his steal at 6:23 for a 44-39 score. But after four unanswered Knight points, Marion faced a 48-39 deficit with 4:32 left to play. Zach Robson answered with a three-pointer at 4:02, and the two teams scored on five straight possessions. Marion narrowed the gap when the Knights missed a few free throw opportunities, and a Harper basket brought Marion within 53-50 at 2:10. A Knight free throw extended the lead to four, but Robson drained a three-pointer at 1:21. The Warriors could not capitalize on a Knight turnover, however, and fell behind, 56-53, on two Knight free throws with just under 47 seconds left to play. Jordan Hett cashed in two with 17 seconds left to draw within 56-55 .The Warriors sent the Knights to the charity stripe with 9.2 seconds left, where Sacred Heart extended its lead to 58-55. Following a Marion timeout, Jordan Hett nailed a three-pointer with 4 seconds left to even the score at 58 and send the game into overtime.
But the Warriors could not bump the lead into their favor. When Marion missed four shots from the field, the Knights claimed a 62-58 lead with 2:05 left to play. Harper scored 30 seconds later to draw within 62-60. Two Knight free-throws pushed the lead back to four at 1:08, and Marion couldn’t answer. The Warriors sent the Knights to the charity stripe, where Sacred Heart made good on seven of eight attempts in the final 43 seconds. The Knights shot 92 percent from the free-throw line in overtime (11-12), and finished the night at 78 percent (25-32). With Marion displaying chilly shooting—25 percent from the field in overtime (3-12), the Knights held a 69-60 lead with just under 20 seconds to play. Hett broke the ice with five points in the final 13 seconds, including a three-pointer with 2 seconds left, but the Knights held a six-point advantage when time expired.
Marion recorded 41 percent shooting from the field in the game (25-61). Jordan Hett led the Warrior attack with a game-high 27 points. Harper added 20. Marion ends the season with a 16-6 overall record.
Sacred Heart (14-8) will advance to the championship game Saturday at 7:30 p.m. to face No. 2 Haven (14-8) who knocked off No. 3 Hillsboro (13-9) by one, 44-43, Friday night.