ORIGINALLY WRITTEN TOM STOPPEL
Marion got off to a fast start for a change and cruised to an easy 68-45 win.
“We hit some shots early and we executed and got some easy looks early,” Marion coach Rex Ostmeyer said. “We’ve been a slow starting team all year.”
Marion led 7-0 out of the gate and maintained a 15-8 lead at the first break.
That advantage grew in the second quarter as Travis Hett canned back-to-back 3-pointers to push the lead to 21-10.
“The way Travis has shot in the last two games, he has the green light,” Ostmeyer said. “But most of his shots were within the offense and in rhythm.”
Three minutes later, Hett nailed another 3 to extend the lead to 31-15 with 1:57 to play. Marion took a 33-19 lead into the locker room at halftime.
Ostmeyer said he encouraged his team to start the second half like it started the game.
“We talked about the first three minutes of the second half and we came out strong,” he said.
In those three minutes, the Warriors used six points by Dale Vogel and two from Hett to expand the lead to 39-21 on the way to a 50-32 margin after three quarters.
Keying the third-quarter run was Vogel, who scored eight points on his way to a game-high 17.
“We ran our stuff and got good looks and we had 12 offensive rebounds, too,” Ostmeyer said. “I was pretty pleased with the effort for the most part.”
Ostmeyer said Vogel’s ability to kick the ball to the perimeter was key to the Warriors’ attack.
“We’re finally kicking the ball out from inside and Dale has to be able to find open guys,” he said. “He did a good job tonight.”
Ostmeyer worked in his entire squad during the final quarter.
“It’s nice to get some of our younger guys some playing time,” Ostmeyer said. “They go at it pretty hard in practice and it was nice to get them some time in front of a full house and get rewarded.”
Travis Hett added 15 points and Jason Hett had 14 as the Warriors hit 52 percent (27-52) from the field and 10 of 12 (83 percent) from the charity stripe.
Marion dominated the boards, 37-18; Vogel pulled down eight.
“This was one of the few teams we’ll play that we’re physically bigger than,” Ostmeyer said. “We boxed out well and I was pleased. The effort was good and its nice to get back on track again.”
With the win, Marion improved to 3-3 in the Mid-Central Activities Association and 7-8 overall.
Smoky Valley-The Marion Warriors continued their season-long battle for consistency against Smoky Valley on Tuesday.
The Warriors overcame a 10-point halftime deficit with a 23-10 third-quarter explosion only to falter in the final four minutes in a 66-54 loss.
“It’s gut wrenching,” coach Rex Ostmeyer said. “If we can get to be a consistent team on both ends for four quarters, I think we’ll be awfully tough to contend with down the stretch. But we have to get there.”
Facing a Smoky Valley team many projected would contend for the Mid-Central Activities Association title, the Warriors struggled to find their rhythm in the opening half and trailed, 34-24, at halftime.
“We really didn’t do much right,” Ostmeyer said. “We didn’t play offense great in the half and we didn’t play defense well.”
But Marion raced to a 23-10 advantage in the third period, transforming a 10-point halftime deficit into a 47-44 lead.
“We played great in the third quarter,” Ostmeyer said. “We switched our defense and went primarily to a man-to-man and made some shots.”
Travis Hett led the charge with three 3-point baskets on his way to 17 points, which tied Dale Vogel for scoring honors.
“We also had a couple transition baskets off some great team play,” Ostmeyer said. “We really got into a good rhythm offensively and played hard on the defensive end.”
Ostmeyer was still feeling good at the midway point of the final period, but the tide quickly changed as Smoky Valley scrapped its 1-2-2 defense in favor of an extended 1-3-1, which proved to be effective.
“They trapped our guards at half court and we just didn’t handle it,” Ostmeyer said. “That’s been a problem for us all year. When someone throws something different at us than what we’re actually tuned in to, we don’t handle it.”
With the game tied at 54 with four minutes remaining, Marion committed six turnovers down the stretch on its way to 24 for the game.
“That’s way too many against a team not pressing,” Ostmeyer said. “Smoky Valley played a half court zone, and if you make a soft pass against it, they’re good enough athletes they’ll steal the pass.”
Marion’s turnovers and missed shots, combined with Smoky’s transition buckets and free throws, produced a deceiving final score of 66-54.
With the loss, Marion falls to 2-3 in the MCAA and 6-8 overall. Smoky Valley improved to 4-1 and 8-6.
“We were right there with them,” Ostmeyer said. “We’ve proved we can play with anyone, but we just haven’t proved we can beat those teams. It’s pretty obvious through 14 games, we’re lacking consistency.”