ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DIANE MAYS
Marion’s game against Sacred Heart at Salina on Friday started slowly, but ended in a decisive win for Sacred Heart, 48-26.
The Knights limited the Warriors to a single free throw in the opening period while scoring 11 points.
“We just couldn’t score,” Marion coach Rex Ostmeyer said. “We came out and got the first two possessions, we get wide open layups out of our offense and we miss them both.
“Then we got two wide-open jump shots on our offense, and we miss them. Then we just quit running our stuff, weren’t executing our offense, trying to force things, getting timid. And that was it.”
The beginning of the second quarter felt like deja vu. After Marion scored on a free throw by Brian Bina, Sacred Heart rolled up 10 more points before Marion finally called a timeout.
The Warriors came back with a 5-3 mini-run, but Sacred Heart held off the charge and led 27-7 at intermission.
Marion seemed to wake up during the third quarter, scoring more points in those eight minutes than they had during the previous 16.
But it wasn’t nearly enough. The Warriors trailed, 37-18 as the quarter ended.
“In the third quarter we came out and got three straight defensive stops,” Ostmeyer said. “We actually executed our offense and scored two or three times. We had the lead cut down to 14. But at the same time, we missed two shots and gave up two wide-open layups.
“We were just shooting ourselves in the foot.”
Marion opened the fourth quarter strong once more, scoring four points. But Marion would only score twice more before the end of the game, their last basket coming with 2:24 left to play.
Sacred Heart, meanwhile, scored eight more points before the buzzer sounded.
Marion 67, Centre 58
Marion won a hard-fought battle against Centre Tuesday night with a strong fourth-quarter finish on the home court.
The game was close from the start. Marion led 17-16 after one quarter, thanks to a hefty contribution of nine points by Jared Hett.
The Warriors pushed their lead to 30-25 by intermission thanks to six points from Joel Versch and seven from Jason Matz.
The crowd got rowdy in response to several no-calls in rough game, but both teams kept their composure.
“They were going to be a scrappy bunch,” said coach Rex Ostmeyer said of the Cougars. “They play really hard, and they’re really active and fly around-and that makes for a physical game sometimes.”
Centre gained a thin upper hand in the third quarter, outscoring the Warriors, 15-13, despite six more points from Matz.
The game got even closer before the momentum swung Marion’s way.
Curtis Gutsch hit two free shots to pull Centre within one of Marion. After Matz scored to push the lead to three points, Gutsch nailed a shot from behind the arc to tie the game at 45 with 7:00 to play.
Brian Bina scored twice for Marion, putting them ahead by four. After a Cougar timeout, Gutsch hit another 3-pointer and later a free-throw to tie the game at 53 with 5:14 left.
Marion then launched a decisive 9-0 run to take control of the game.
Centre finally scored with 1:52 to play, but Tyler Stubenhofer, Alan Vogel and Matz combined for five more points down the stretch to keep the Cougars at bay.
“Our main weaknesses are turning the ball over too much and defensively just guarding the man with the basketball,” Ostmeyer said.
“We really worked on trying to handle the pressure, things we need to keep getting better at.”
But Ostmeyer was proud of his team’s ability to finish the game so strongly.
“We got some steals on defense and we got some easy baskets,” he said. “We executed down the stretch for maybe the first time this season, and that was nice to see.”
Coming-The Warriors took a 5-10 record into Tuesday’s home game with Wichita Independent. Friday, the Herington Railers come to town for the Warriors’ 2003 homecoming matchup. Game time will be around 8 p.m.
Marion travels to Wichita Trinity next Tuesday.