After suffering a homecoming loss to Bennington a week prior, the Marion boys went on the road to face the Bulldogs a second time Friday looking for a different outcome.
But Marion let a first-half double-digit lead slip away, and the Bulldogs surged to a 12-point, 67-55, victory.
The Marion offense found its spark to open the game, capitalizing on Bennington missed shots to lead 15-8 at the end of the first quarter.
“I thought we came out with more aggressiveness and attack in mind against (Bennington’s) 1-3-1, and the result was good ball movement leading to good shots,” coach Jeff McMillin said.
The Warriors built a double-digit, 19-8, lead one minute into the second period, and Jordan Hett scored Marion’s final nine points of the quarter, contributing to Marion’s largest lead, 34-21, with 1:48 left before the break.
But just when it appeared Marion was firmly in the driver’s seat, momentum shifted to Bennington when the Bulldogs drew a foul on a three-point shot and made two of three from the line and followed with a three-point basket with 40 seconds on the clock.
A Bennington steal led to another score 13 seconds later, deflating the Marion lead to 34-28 at the half.
Bennington kept momentum rolling in the third quarter by scoring off a steal to narrow the margin to four, 34-30.
Defense was a factor in the second half, McMillin said, adding that the Bennington defense improved, while the Warriors lost aggressiveness on defense.
Two Bulldog three-pointers brought Bennington within 41-40, and the home team capitalized on a Marion turnover to take a 42-41 lead with 2:59 left in the third period.
But Jordan Hett scored five straight points for Marion, and the Warriors clung to a narrow, 46-45, lead going into the final quarter.
With Marion shots cooling, the Bulldogs took the lead for good, 48-46, on a three-point play to open the final period.
Ethan Hett narrowed the gap to 50-49 with a three-point basket, and Jordan Hett scored from the charity stripe at 5:13 to again bring Marion within one, 52-51.
But the Warriors stalled at 51, not getting a shot to fall until less than a minute remained in the game.
Bennington used a 12-0 run to build a double-digit, 64-51, lead with 1:10 left to play.
Harper broke Marion’s scoring drought with a basket 12 seconds later, but following Warrior shots refused to fall until Taylor Heidebrecht scored on a layup with one second left.
But the damage was done, and Bennington claimed the 12-point victory.
“(We) were not mentally strong enough to do the things needed to put the game away,” McMillin said. “We can and have done those things throughout the season.
“During this little slide, we have lost focus on those things. I think it has served as a learning point for us heading into the postseason.”
Jordan Hett led the Warriors with 20 points, followed by Harper and Ethan Hett with 13 apiece.
Inman––After building a 14-point lead late in the third quarter, the Marion boys had opportunity to put Tuesday’s game against Inman away.
But the Teutons launched a final rally, and two costly Warrior turnovers at the end of regulation allowed the visitors to tie the game, and Marion couldn’t get the job done in double overtime, suffering a heartbreaking, 56-54, loss.
The game began with the Warriors in front, but the teams battled back-and-forth, and Inman came out on top after one quarter, 11-10.
Zach Robson opened the second period with five straight points, and a Jacob Harper score off a Wiley Lundy steal gave Marion a 17-12 advantage at 5:40.
Neither team hit a shot the next four minutes of play, and Timothy Knolla ended the scoring drought with a three-point basket.
Inman narrowed the Marion lead to 20-15 at the half.
The Warriors, who shot 40 percent from the field in the game (21-52), lit the fuse in the third quarter, building a double-digit, 32-22, lead when Jordan Hett scored off a steal at 2:48.
Hett and Harper scored back to baskets for Marion’s largest lead, 36-22, with 50 seconds left in the third period.
But Inman scored with two seconds left, igniting a 6-0 surge.
With Inman threatening, Marion had opportunity to put the game away in the final minutes of regulation.
The Warriors held a 43-38 lead with 1:44 left to play, but a poor Marion pass put the ball in the hands of the Inman defender, and after a foul, the Teutons drew within 43-40 from the charity stripe at 1:16.
Marion again had chance to score, but another poor pass led to a turnover, and Marion fouled on the ensuing Inman basket.
The traditional three-point play tied the game at 43 with 55 seconds left to play.
Hett drew a foul with just under 10 seconds left, but the free-throw didn’t fall, sending the game into overtime.
Inman scored first in overtime, but Marion rallied with four unanswered points to take a 47-45 lead with 55 seconds left.
Both teams had opportunity to score from the free-throw line, but all shots missed their mark.
Inman evened the score at 47 with 15 seconds left, and a Warrior shot at the buzzer did not fall to send the game into a second overtime period.
Lundy scored first with a second chance basket, but the Teutons answered with a basket behind the arc for a narrow, 50-49, lead.
Hett secured two points from the charity stripe, but another Teuton three-pointer put Inman in front, 53-51, with 33 seconds left.
Hett drained a three 10 seconds later to give Marion the edge, but Inman scored with 10 seconds left for a 55-54 lead.
The next Warrior shot did not fall, and Marion was forced to foul with two seconds left.
Inman made one of two from the charity stripe, and a Warrior shot at the buzzer missed its mark, giving Inman the two-point victory.
Hett led the Warrior attack with 25 points. Harper added 11.
Coming––Marion (5-3, 14-5) was scheduled to conclude the regular season with a home contest against Hutchinson Trinity (3-5, 7-15) Tuesday.
Boys’ sub-state action will begin next week. Marion has secured the No. 1 seed and will host a first-round game Tuesday. Following games will be played at Hillsboro.