ORIGINALLY WRITTEN ERIC CLARK
Too little too late could have been the Marion boys basketball team’s epitaph after a 53-51 loss to the Council Grove Braves Friday night in Marion.
The Warriors trailed the entire game until they took a one-point lead at the end of the third quarter on a 3-pointer by Robert Verbic.
In the fourth quarter, the Braves capitalized on mistakes down the stretch and handed the Warriors their third loss of the year.
After the game, Marion head coach Chris Moddlemog praised his team for their intensity, but was disappointed that the Warriors’ opportunity slipped away at the end of the game.
“It’s disappointing and kind of a let down,” Moddlemog said. “We played hard and Council Grove is a good team. I thought we played about as hard as we could.”
Moddlemog, uncharacteristically animated and vocal throughout the game, said Council Grove is one of the top teams in the league.
“I don’t know whether their coach talked about that before the game,” Moddlemog said about the growing rivalry between the two schools. “I think there are teams that are more of a rival for us, but I think this one could develop if we continue to be competitive with them.”
In the opening quarter, the Braves went on an early run that quickly extinguished any Warrior thoughts of an easy victory.
But Marion battled back to pull within one point by the end of the quarter.
The second quarter played out much like the first. Council Grove pulled away in the early stages before the Warriors scratched their way back into the game. Council Grove led at intermission, 25-24.
In the third quarter, the Braves and Warriors traded baskets and turnovers. With less than a minute remaining in the period, Marion grabbed a defensive rebound and headed down the court to get a last shot. Verbic nailed his 3-pointer from the top of the key to give the Warriors a 41-40 lead at the end of the quarter.
The Warriors carried the momentum into the final quarter, only to give up several Council Grove shots near the bucket.
Trading buckets and possessions, the Warriors and Braves found themselves in a war down in the paint. The Braves eventually gained the advantage by knocking down several free throws down the stretch.
Verbic led the Warriors with 14 points. Braxton Skiles added 13.
“We did a lot better job in the second half, but we didn’t block out on the weak side very well,” Moddlemog said. “Defensively, in the second half, we didn’t rotate well. (Travis) Mayer hit a couple of big 3s from the baseline and that hurt.
“Offensively, we pushed a little too much. If we would have taken what they gave us, we would have been OK.”
Chase County-Marion’s Robert Verbic exploded for a season-high 21 points to lead the Warriors to a win in their Cottonwood Valley League opener, 45-40.
The Warriors struggled offensively through the first three quarters, but woke up with less than five minutes remaining in the game to pull off the win.
The Warriors went down early after the Bulldogs heated up from beyond the 3-point arc. Marion trailed, 15-6, at the end of the quarter.
But Marion snuck back into the ball game in the second period and trailed only 23-18 at halftime after Verbic stole the ball in the closing seconds, was fouled, and hit both free throws.
In the third quarter, the Warriors tried to close the gap further, but the Bulldogs answered every Marion advance and took a 34-29 lead into the final period.
With just under four minutes remaining in the game, Marion’s Tyler Stubenhofer found Verbic under the basket for a layup to give the Warriors their first lead, 37-36.
Marion hit its free throws at crucial times and brought home their fourth win of the year.
Verbic’s 21 point night led all scorers. Jason Matz added 9 for Marion.
Coming-Marion took its 3-3 season record to Hope last night. They will face CVL rival Sacred Heart on Thursday in their final game before taking a Christmas break. The Warriors are 1-1 in CVL play.
ORIGINALLY WRITTEN ERIC CLARK