Marion girls drop tough battle to Sacred Heart squad

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN ANDREW JOST
The Marion girls were neck-and-neck with league-front-runner Salina Sacred Heart down to the wire Saturday afternoon, but in the end, the Warriors were unable to break through the final minutes, losing 66-60.

The postponed matchup showcased the top two teams in the Cottonwood Valley League.

As in the team’s previous meeting, Steph Wittman had another impressive performance for the visiting Knights, who entered the contest atop a 14-game winning streak. Riding a dominate first-half, the junior from Salina finished with a jaw-dropping 37 points.

The Warriors, now two games off the pace in the race for first, made every effort to earn a share of the Cottonwood Valley League lead.

“We scored 60 points for crying out loud,” coach Daryl Enos said after the loss. “We played well, and I was pretty happy with our performance.”

After a sluggish start, Marion trailed 11-4 midway through the first quarter, but in the last four minutes, Brandi Peterie-Shipman stepped up with eight points, four of which she scored off back-to-back steals.

As the first horn sounded, Marion was breathing down the Knights’ neck, 17-16.

Things continued to improve for the Warriors during the second quarter, and the team drew even with the Knights at 22 with 5:34 remaining before halftime.

Peterie-Shipman gave Marion its first lead at the 2:50 mark, but the Knights quickly answered with a 2-point basket of their own, bringing the score 27-26.

Later on, with play remaining close, Caitlin O’Dell hit Marion’s first 3-pointer of the night, setting the Warriors up for a 32-31 advantage at halftime.

Peterie-Shipman led her team at the break with 16 points while Sacred Heart’s Wittman racked up an amazing 25.

“One thing we told the girls we had to do was if she was in your area, you couldn’t leave her unguarded,” Enos said of Wittman. “If she’s in your area, she’s got the ball, you’ve got her.”

Marion held on to its lead for most of the third quarter, but slowly the Knights once again worked their way into the lead, outscoring the Warriors, 19-14-even though Marion’s defense held the Knights’ leading scorer to only four points.

As the final quarter started, Marion trailed 50-46.

With time winding down, the Warriors once again tied Sacred Heart for the lead at 50 with 6:55 remaining, but they would never regain the lead. The Knights outlasted the Warriors down the final stretch, sealing their victory with five points from the free-throw line in the final minute of play.

Peterie-Shipman led the Warriors with 22 points, followed by O’Dell with 12. Toni Gordon added eight points, all in the second half.

“When (Brandi) scores 20 points or more we win most of our ball games,” Enos said. “She shoulders a little more defense from the other team, and that frees up some of our other kids.”

With the loss, the Warriors’ overall record falls to 11-6 with a league record of 7-2.

After the game, Marion’s coach challenged his team with a goal for the rest of the season.

“I told the girls that really, we expect to be 14-6 at the end of the regular season and be in the championship game of sub-state,” Enos said.

For the night, the Warriors connected on 25 of 70 shots from the field for 36 percent and 8 of 11 from the free-throw line for 73 percent. Only two baskets were from 3-point range.

Sacred Heart was 25-for-54 from the field for 46 percent. Five of those baskets were from 3-point range.

“Today, we played,” Enos said. “We came out right from the start and played hard and finished hard, so I don’t know what more you could ask of these kids.”

After hosting Wichita Trinity last night, the Warriors have a short break until Feb. 24, when they’ll travel to Council Grove.

Herington-After sleeping through the first half of Friday night’s game against the Herington Railers, the visiting Marion girls basketball team sprang to life, outscoring the its opponent 36-6 in the second half to win 59-29.

“The first half was just ugly,” Marion coach Daryl Enos said. “(Herington) did whatever they wanted to do.”

The Railers, who suited up only seven girls for the contest, outscored Marion in the first quarter by four points, and by halftime the two teams were deadlocked at 23.

In their previous meeting this season, the Warriors’ defense held Herington to only 11 total points.

“I don’t know if we overlooked them-I don’t think so, but we didn’t play basketball,” Enos said. “Our inside game was pretty much nonexistent the first half.”

After a sobering halftime, a new Marion team blew through the third quarter, outscoring the Railers 27-4 and ending any upset hopes Railer fans may have been coddling.

Brandi Peterie-Shipman led the Warriors with 18 points, followed by Caitlin O’Dell with 11 and Allie Maddox with 10. Toni Gordon led the defense with eight rebounds.

With the second-half surge, Marion finished the night shooting 46 percent from the floor, hitting 21 of 46 shots, three of which were good from 3-point range.

Somewhat confounded by his team’s performance, Enos said his players continue to lack the necessary impulse to attack every ballgame.

“We still don’t have that killer instinct sometimes,” he said. “We’re learning how to be a good team every night.”

Wichita Independent-Coming off a loss to Sunrise Academy, the visiting Marion Warrior girls found their form against league-rival Wichita Independent, defeating the Panthers 66-55 and extending their league record to 6-1.

Similar to their first meeting this season, the Warriors took the lead early and maintained control of the ballgame.

“They scored first,” coach Daryl Enos said, “and then it was pretty much all us after that.”

After last week’s blow-out loss to Sunrise, Enos was more than pleased to see his team perform closer to their potential.

“I thought our rebounding focus was much better,” he said. “Our inside game was a whole lot better, maybe the best we’ve seen this year.

“We still gave up some things I didn’t like, but I think that’s probably inevitable.”

Most of the game’s action came in the first two quarters. Their offense clicking, Marion put up 39 points in the first half alone-two points more than their final total against Sunrise.

After a fast-paced first quarter, the Warriors sat atop a 23-16 lead, and by the break, Marion held a solid 39-23 advantage.

But after halftime, the game’s pace shifted significantly. Like several opponents Marion has faced, the Panthers settled in and began stalling time.

His team still somewhat winded from a high-speed first half, Enos said Independent was trying to wear them out.

“We were kind of tired,” he said, “but I was like, eh, we’ll just run around the top a little bit, get some token defense and we’ll get our legs fresh under us again.”

By the end of the third quarter, Independent’s strategy only prevented Marion from running much further away with the lead. With 8 minutes remaining, Marion kept comfortable with a 56-38 lead.

In the fourth, the Panthers caught a whiff of excitement with a small scoring run, but Marion’s solid first three quarters left the lead far from their reach.

“The fourth quarter kind of got pretty stagnant,” Enos said. “Other than that, I thought we played pretty well.”

Eight players contributed points in the Warrior victory. Brandi Peterie-Shipman led Marion with 22 points, searing the iron with a field goal completion rate of 82 percent.

Coming off the bench, sophomore Toni Gordon added 14 points and six rebounds.

“That was huge for us,” Enos said. “Her defense stepped up a bunch, her rebounding was improved, and then she got herself in a position to make shots.”

“She took it to them a little bit.”

Overall, Enos was significantly encouraged by his team’s performance.

“I just think the girls were actually pretty focused on getting the job done,” he said. “Everybody was ready to play and wanted to do their best-that was obvious.

“The kids were working their tails off.”

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