It wasn’t a fairytale ending for Marion on homecoming night, as both Warrior basketball teams dropped Friday’s games to Bennington. The girls fell by a score of 57-45, while the boys dropped a 52-41 contest to the Bulldogs.
GIRLS – Marion once again struggled to get a good start in Friday’s game, scoring only two baskets in the first quarter to face a 12-4 deficit at the end of the opening period. The Bulldogs built a 17-6, double-digit lead with 6:30 to play before half, and the Warriors never closed the gap within seven points the duration of the half. Despite seven points from Erin Meierhoff in the period, the Bulldogs held a 27-17 lead at the break.
Things final began to click into place for the Warriors in the third period. Kaelyn Thierolf and Katey Ehrlich had back-to-back scores to close the gap to 27-22 at 5:20, and Marion later enjoyed an 8-0 run that tied the game at 30 when Kirsten Hansen scored off a Thierolf steal with 2:54 left in the third. The Bulldogs answered, and held a narrow 34-32 lead going into the final quarter of play.
Thierolf evened the score at 34 half a minute into the fourth quarter, but the Bulldogs put up five unanswered points before Ehrlich gave Marion two points from the charity stripe for a 39-36 Bulldog margin with 5:35 left to play. Bennington sank a three-point shot 13 seconds later, and while Kelli Hess drained a three-point basket at 3:58 to again narrow the gap to three, 44-41, the Warriors could not overcome the deficit. Warrior shots refused to drop until Ehrlich made one of two shots from the charity stripe with 1:17 left to play. Hess drained another three-point basket with 50 seconds left, but the Bulldogs still led, 51-45. With Marion forced to foul, Bennington scored its final six points from the charity stripe to claim the 12-point victory.
Erin Meierhoff led the Warriors with 10 total points.
BOYS – After bursting out of the gate with a 10-0 start, the Warriors endured an ugly second quarter and never fully recovered in Friday’s 52-41 loss to Bennington. Marion came out on fire, scoring 10 unanswered points thanks to two baskets behind the arc by Ethan Hett and two baskets by Jacob Harper to claim a double-digit lead at the 5:46 mark. The Warriors lost steam on offense, however, and the Bulldogs closed the gap to 12-9 at the end of the first quarter. The second quarter proved fatal for the Warriors, who did not score a point the duration of the period. Bennington assumed a 13-12 lead 34 seconds into the period, and, taking advantage of missed Warrior shots and a few costly turnovers, surged to a 22-12, double-digit lead at the half.
The Warriors continued to battle on defense, but did not add points to the board until 5:49 remained in the third when Jordan Hett made two free-throws. The Bulldogs surged 5-0 before Harper answered with two points from the charity stripe at the 2:40 mark, which ignited a 7-0 Marion surge to draw within 29-21 on an Austin Pedersen three-point basket with 41 seconds left in the period. Bennington held a 30-23 lead going into the final quarter of play.
The Bulldogs pushed the lead back to double figures to open the fourth quarter after capitalizing on a steal, but a Harper three-point basket followed by a basket by Hett brought Marion within 34-28. But Bennington drained two baskets from behind the arc in 32 seconds to again push the lead to 10, 40-30. The teams traded scores, and Marion found a bit of a spark when Pedersen hit a basket behind the arc with 3:15 left on the clock, which ignited a 7-0 surge by the Warriors that closed the gap to 45-41 when Harper scored off a steal at the 1:54 mark. It would be the Warriors’ final points of the night. Bennington scored three points from the charity stripe and added two baskets in the final 40 seconds to claim the 11-point victory.
Harper led the Marion attack with 19 total points.