Judging by the final score, one might assume the Marion boys’ game against Hutchinson Trinity Tuesday was never close.
But the Warriors trailed at halftime, and after trailing by six to open the second half, scored more points in the third quarter than the first half combined to run away with a 54-38 victory to end the regular season.
It took time for the Warriors to get rolling. Marion held a narrow, 10-9, lead after the first quarter. But the Celtics surged to a 15-10 lead with 3:52 left in the second quarter. The Warriors played from behind the rest of the quarter and went into the locker room down 20-16.
“We’ve been having a lot of confidence issues lately, and it carried over even into the first half of this game,” coach Jeff McMillin said. “We finally snapped out of it and got going like we were used to going.
“The second half was more typical of how we’ve played the rest of the season.”
Smarter defense and a more aggressive offense helped Marion in the third quarter, McMillin said. The Warriors claimed a 26-24 lead at 3:06 after Jordan Hett scored six straight points. Jacob Harper followed 17 seconds later with a basket off a steal.
The Celtics drew within one, 28-27, at the 2:16 mark, but it was all Marion the rest of the quarter.
The home team surged with a 13-0 run that climaxed with six straight points by Harper on a traditional three-point play off a steal followed by a three-point basket at the buzzer.
The surge gave the Warriors a 41-27 lead at the end of the third quarter.
“We made some adjustments at halftime,” McMillin said. “We wanted to make them break the press against the defender. We wanted to be more aggressive on offense. But the biggest change was the change that the boys made in their mentality.”
Marion established its largest lead of the night, 52-31, with 4:15 left to play, thanks to a three-point basket by Harper.
Harper led the Warriors with 24 points. Hett added 21.
Coming––The Marion boys (15-5) enter the Hillsboro sub-state tournament as the No. 1 seed and were scheduled to host a rematch against No. 8 Hutch Trinity (4-15) Tuesday in the first round. The winner will face either No. 4 Sacred Heart (12-8) or No. 5 Southeast of Saline (11-9).
The rest of Marion’s games will be hosted by Hillsboro. Semifinal games are scheduled to begin Friday, with the championship set for 7:30 p.m. Saturday. Joining the sub-state lineup are: Haven, Hillsboro, Sacred Heart, Southeast of Saline, Lyons and Halstead.
For updated results, visit hillsborofreepress.com.