Both Marion teams faced Solomon Friday in the second round of the Cougar Classic. In the girls’ bracket, seventh-seeded Marion fell just short of defeating the sixth-seeded Gorillas, losing 42-39. The second-seeded Marion boys, however, defeated third-seeded Solomon, 75-65.
GIRLS – While the game ended close, it didn’t start that way for the Warriors, who made only one basket in the first four minutes of Friday’s contest to trail 15-2 with 4:27 remaining in the opening quarter. A Katey Ehrlich free throw and following basket by Megan Richmond brought the Warriors within 10, 15-5, at 3:44, and the quarter ended with a basket by Kirsten Hansen off a steal for a 19-8 score. The second quarter opened with two free throws by Kaelyn Thierolf. The Warriors were plagued by turnovers, and Marion struggled to get looks in the paint. Marion also had difficulty at the free-throw line. In spite of their offensive struggle, Marion held the Gorillas to only four points in the quarter, and went on to score on baskets by Erin Meierhoff, Corey Shields and Hansen to narrow the gap to six, 23-17, at the half.
After the break, Meierhoff opened play with a three-point basket to bring the Warriors within three, 23-20. Later, Marion drew within two, 27-25, on a Richmond basket at 2:06. Despite recording steals, the Warriors could not capitalize until a Hansen basket off a steal with 17 seconds on the clock narrowed the Gorilla lead to 30-27.
Kelli Hess opened the final quarter with a basket behind the arc to tie the game at 30. The Warriors took their only lead of the night, 32-30, courtesy of a Meierhoff basket. The Gorillas answered with a basket behind the arc at 6:39 to claim the lead for good. Missed shots and turnovers did not help the Warrior cause, and the Warriors trailed 36-32 with 3:54 left to play. Ehrlich scored in the paint 20 seconds later, and a Richmond basket at 1:01 followed by a free-throw by Ehrlich brought Marion within one, 38-37, with 51 seconds left. Hansen got a steal, but a Warrior turnover gave the ball back to Solomon, who scored two free throws at the 30-second mark for a 40-37 lead. An Ehrlich basket with 21 seconds remaining again brought the Warriors within one, 40-39, but two Gorilla free throws sealed the 42-39 Solomon victory.
Ehrlich and Meierhoff led the Warriors with eight points each. The Warriors will play for seventh place Saturday at 2 p.m.
BOYS – It was an ugly start for the Warriors in Friday’s contest against Solomon, with Marion finding itself on the short end of a 12-2 score three minutes into the game. Free throws by Jordan Hett and Jacob Harper helped keep the Warriors in the game, and an Austin Pedersen three-point basket with 1:32 left in the opening period brought Marion within five, 15-10. The quarter ended with a 17-11 Gorilla lead.
Taylor Heidebrecht scored from behind the arc just 15 seconds into the second quarter, and the Warriors later surged with a 8-0 run to narrow Solomon’s lead to 23-22 at the 4:29 mark. Harper and Hett accounted for the remainder of the Warriors’ points in the quarter, and a Harper basket at 1:45 evened the score at 31. Hett scored 30 seconds later for a 33-31 lead, but Solomon free throws evened the score at 33 at halftime.
Solomon scored first after the break, but the Warriors would go on a 9-0 surge for a 42-35 lead at the 4:30 mark. The teams traded scores, but a three-point Gorilla basket at the buzzer narrowed Marion’s lead to two, 52-50, going into the final quarter of play. Both offenses continued to trade points, and the game was tied at 60 with 3:26 left in the game. Marion pulled ahead on a three-point basket by Hett, 63-60. After two free throws from Harper at 2:23 for a 65-61 lead, Hett scored the Warriors’ final 10 points. In the end, Marion held on for the 10-point victory.
Hett led the Warrior attack with 35 points, followed by Harper with 26. With the win, the Warriors will play in the championship game Saturday at 6:30 p.m.