Sterling led 9-6 after one quarter despite struggling against Marion’s press. The Warriors struggled to score off the turnovers they forced, and tallied all 6 points at the foul line.
But as the combination of full-court pressure and half-court trapping wore down the Black Bears, the Warriors settled into their transition offense.
“The first quarter was about as bad as we can play—we didn’t even score a basket,” coach Rex Ostmeyer said. “But after that, we got on a roll.A lot of it was forcing 33 turnovers (for the game) and getting 34 points that way.
“A lot of our offense came off our defense—that’s something we have to do,” he added. “And we made some shots.”
Marion clobbered Sterling on the boards and limited the Black Bears’ top shooter, Cody Riggs, to 15 points.
“The kids did a nice job with their effort and energy, and we turned them over,” Ostmeyer said. “That was pretty good.”
Midway through the second period, Justin Heidebrecht got the momentum going with back-to-back 3-point shots, and the Warriors broke away.
“Heidebrecht had his best game offensively in his high school career,” Ostmeyer said. “He sparked us with a couple of his own personal runs.”
Marion sealed the game with a 30-12 run in the third quarter. Heidebrecht helped turn a nine-point lead into a 14-point advantage with a 3-pointer followed immediately by a steal for a fast-break layup.
Marion carried a 60-33 lead into the final frame. Sterling outscored the Warriors 13-7 in the period, but only after Marion backed away from its aggressive defensive scheme.
“We thought they’d be susceptible to some pressure, and we made a conscious effort to bring that pressure from the beginning,” Ostmeyer said.
Heidebrecht led all scorers with 22 points, making nine of 13 field goals including a 4-for-6 effort beyond the arc. Calvin Jeffrey and Chase Carlson each added 9 points and Eric Vogel and Luke Gordon scored 8 apiece.
“I was really proud of Calvin, because when he was younger, a bad shooting night would have affected other parts of his game,” Ostmeyer said. “Tuesday, even though he wasn’t shooting well, he played solidly in other parts of the game.”
Jeffrey added six assists, six rebounds and three steals.
“We had been taking beatings inside against other teams, so I was also really proud of our post players (Gordon, Vogel and Isaac Hett),” Ostmeyer said. “Sterling has two big kids inside, and we did a very good job on them.”
The press defense helped Marion mitigate post players Skyler Maxwell and Gabe Dierksen, who totaled 4 points and one offensive rebound while combining for seven fouls.
Coming—Marion (2-3) opens 2008 with a home contest against Ellinwood (1-1) Jan. 4. The rescheduled home game against Lyons (3-2) will be played Jan. 5.