|David Loewen goes up strong for a shot in the paint during the first half of the Hillsboro-Marion game on Friday. The junior finished as the game-high scorer with 19 points. Phyllis Richert photo.|
“I thought we were dead on our feet last week,” Hillsboro coach Darrel Knoll said. “(Marion) played well and we didn’t at the end of that game. I thought we executed much better and managed the time a lot better down the stretch.”
Friday’s contest counted toward the league race, and the victory gave HHS a 3-0 mark in the MCAA and 7-5 overall, while Marion dropped to 1-2 and 4-8.
Playing before a sizeable crowd, the two teams squared off Friday for what appeared would be another barn-burner.
Hillsboro managed a 7-3 lead through the first 3:15, but a basket by Justin Heidebrecht, two from Chase Carlson and one by Luke Gordon vaulted Marion to an 11-7 advantage.
Clay Shewey broke the Trojans’ dry spell with a 3-pointer with 25 seconds left in the period to pull Hillsboro to within 11-10 at the break.
The two teams traded scores through the second period. Marion’s Calvin Jeffrey got a 5-foot runner to drop with 2.5 seconds left to tie the score at 21 at halftime.
Shewey started the third quarter with a bang, nailing a 3-pointer from the top of the key 18 seconds into the action.
This time it was Marion that hit a dry spell, missing its first six shots of the half. Even so, when Gordon scored a traditional three-point play at the 5:21 mark, Marion was back to within 26-24.
Shewey responded 13 seconds later with his second 3-pointer and eighth point of the quarter, but baskets by Jeffrey and Gordon pulled the Warriors to within one point, 29-28, midway through the period.
After the two teams traded baskets, David Loewen sank a pair of free throws with 1:02 on the clock and Mitchell Koop followed with a 10-foot jumper with 33.5 seconds to go to boost Hillsboro to a 35-30 advantage at the final break.
After Loewen scored in the paint 30 seconds into the final period, the free-throw parade began. Shewey started it with two at the 7:05 mark for a 39-30 Trojan lead.
Marion refused to fold, though. A 3-pointer by Jeffrey followed by a traditional 3-point play by Carlson closed the gap to 44-39 with 4:36 left.
But 0-for-5 shooting by Marion, key rebounds by Hillsboro and a technical on the Warrior bench enabled the Trojans to piece together an 8-0 run that carried them to a 52-39 margin with 1:38 to go.
Jeffrey drained one last 3-pointer 10 seconds later, but the Trojans countered with five free-throws in six attempts before Carlson scored a mostly meaningless two points in the final seconds to close the final gap to 13 points.
Knoll said the key to his team’s second-half advantage was better execution.
“I thought we took better shots in the second half and made fewer mistakes,” he said. “Every time we got a bit of a lead (in the first half), we turned the ball over a couple of times and let them right back in it. I thought we withstood those runs a little better in the second half.”
Loewen led the Trojans with 19 points on 6-for-8 eight shooting from the floor, and a perfect 7-for-7 from the line. Shewey finished with 18 points despite a below-par shooting night (5-16). Daniel Jost chipped in 12.
As a team, the Trojans shot 42 percent from the floor and made 21 of 27 free throws for the game.
For Marion, Jeffrey was the only Warrior to break double figures, finishing with 17 points on 7-for-20 shooting. As a team, the Warriors managed 34 percent shooting (19-56) from the floor and made four free throws in only six opportunities.
“I thought (Marion) played really hard,” Knoll said. “Until the game was out of reach at the very end, they gave it a great effort. I thought it was impressive that we were able to play as well as we did after getting such a great effort out of them.”
Marion coach Rex Ostmeyer liked the instenisty of both teams.
“I thought both teams played incredibly hard throughout the game,” he said. “I told my guys that I couldn’t ask for them to play any harder.
“I felt like we executed our defensive game plan pretty well, we just couldn’t get the ball in the basket in the second half, and Hillsboro made free throws down the stretch.
“You can’t miss 19 shots inside of 15 feet—it’s as simple as that. If we finish inside, it is a different game.”
Coming—Hillsboro was scheduled for a game Tuesday at Haven, then will return home Friday to take on highly regarded Hesston (9-1, 3-0) at Brown Gymnasium. Both are league games.
Marion was to play host to Nickerson on Tuesday before traveling to Lyons (5-6, 1-2) on Friday.