ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
“Know thyself” was Socrates’ basis for a successful life. “Know each other” was a key difference in Marion’s successful 59-44 debut against Hillsboro Friday at Marion.
The experience of the five senior Warrior starters paid dividends against a Trojan team that returned three starters with significant varsity experience and looked to a pair of freshmen for depth.
The Warriors took advantage from the start, effectively using their pressure defense and up-tempo offense to post a 13-2 lead with two minutes left in the quarter-six of those points came on Trojan fouls.
“The core of my team is definitely inexperienced,” Trojan coach Becky Carlson said. “I think we had some jitters out there, and it showed at the first of the game when we were a little bit sluggish on defense and got into some foul trouble because of that.”
The Trojans, who had made only one field goal in 10 attempts during that first six-minute stretch, pieced together a 9-2 rally in the final minutes to pull back to with four, 15-11, at the end of the quarter.
Key to the comeback was a pair of free throws and a 3-pointer at the buzzer by Marissa Diener in the final 20 seconds.
The second quarter followed a similar theme. The Warriors, getting six points from Brandi Peterie-Shipman, extend the lead to 25-14 with 4:20 left in the half.
After a timeout by Carlson, the Trojans began a slow comeback against the Marion second team.
The key word: slow. In a half bogged down by 32 foul calls-19 against Marion and 13 against Hillsboro-the Trojans scored seven of their next 14 points from the foul line, but could have had six more with better aim.
A basket by Emily Ratzlaff at the buzzer capped the Trojans’ 15-6 surge and pulled Hillsboro to within two at 31-29.
With his starters well rested, coach Daryl Enos’s team took control-and maintained it-in the third quarter. Amy Tajchman poured in six points and Peterie-Shipman four to expand the Warriors’ lead to 45-35 by the quarter’s end.
Thanks in no small way to the Warriors’ aggressive defense, the Trojans shot a sluggish 3-for-12 during the quarter, with all three baskets coming in the paint.
Even so, the Trojans had a chance to make a charge with 10 free-throw opportunities in the first 4:30 of the quarter, but made only one.
For the game, the Trojans were a frigid 13-of-34 from the charity stripe for 38 percent. The girls shot about the same percentage from the field, making 15 of 42 attempts for 36 percent. They also committed 17 turnovers.
Carlson credited the Warrior defense for a lot of her team’s frustration on offense.
“Their defense hurt us,” she said. “We have to learn to get up and down the court and then, once we don’t have something, we need to learn to control the ball.
“We have the potential to go at a fast pace, but we haven’t got to the point yet where we’re in control of that,” Carlson added. “We all need to be patient, and we may take some lumps here early in the season until we get to where we want to be.”
Ratzlaff scored 11 points to lead the Trojans. Amy Duerksen added 10 and Katie Fast nine.
The Warriors, meanwhile, were slightly more accurate, hitting 13 of 27 from the stripe for 49 percent, and 23 of 61 shots from the field for 38 percent.
Peterie-Shipman scored 16 points to lead her team. Tajchman also finished in double figures with 12.
The Warriors also dominated the boards with 48 rebounds to Hillsboro’s 30. Emmy Bowers led the way with 11 and Tajchman added 10. Fast pulled down 11 to lead Hillsboro.
Enos said he was “very pleased” with his team’s performance.
“I thought our game tempo was good,” he said. “Our rebounding I thought was good-we were well above our targeted goal. Our shooting percentage was a little low, though, and our fouling situation was kind of a problem.
“Maybe that’s attributed to the officials being new for the season, too.”
In the end, 57 fouls were called. By game’s Peterie-Shipman and Caitlin O’Dell fouled out for Marion and freshman Hannah Marsh was disqualified for Hillsboro. Between the two teams, four other players finished with four fouls.
Fouls aside, Enos said his team’s performance confirmed his preseason observation that his team is catching to his system in his second year at the helm.
“I think the girls have bought into the system and I think they saw the results Friday night,” he said.
“They saw that it does work and that it fits the style of play they’re capable of doing. I think they had fun.”
For Carlson, this game was a benchmark from which to improve.
“They have a good basketball team,” she said of Marion. “When it was his inexperience against our inexperience, we did a fine job.
“If we had not gotten into foul trouble at the first, and if we would have made all those free throws, I think it would have made a big difference.
“Last year at this point we did a good job, but I felt like we plateaued as the year went along. This year, I’m hoping we’ll get better and better from this point.”
Coming-The Trojans will be back in action at Wichita Collegiate on Friday. Tip-off will be around 8 p.m. The following Tuesday, they will travel to Hesston.
The Warriors will participate in the Inman Tournament this week. They were scheduled to play at Burrton on Tuesday, then will travel to Inman to play the hometown Teutons on Thursday and St. John on Friday.
The following Tuesday, the Warriors will open Cottonwood Valley League play at Chase County.