ORIGINALLY WRITTEN TOM STOPPEL
There’s a fine line between the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. Marion boys’ coach Rex Ostmeyer and his band of Warriors experienced the bitter edge of that line in 64-62 loss at Lyons on Friday.
Playing some of its best basketball of the season, the Warriors led for more 31 minutes of the game but dropped a 64-62 decision to the feisty Lions.
“That’s the best we’ve played by far from a consistency standpoint on offense,” Ostmeyer said. “We controlled the whole game.”
Marion started the game with intensity, and led 19-14 at the first break. The Warriors would stretch that lead to as many as 10 points in the second quarter before a pair baskets right before halftime cut the margin to 37-32 by intermission.
The Warriors continued their solid play in the third quarter, riding the broad shoulders of Dale Vogel.The senior shredded the Lion’s defense for 23 points through the first 24 minutes of the game as Marion led 52-49 heading into the fourth quarter.
“They had no answer for Dale,” Ostmeyer said. “They couldn’t stop him. He was completely dominating the game.”
But Lyons, while staying within the boundaries of the rules, desperately needed to stop Vogel in order to win.
The Lions began “flopping” on Vogel, Ostmeyer said, attempting to draw offensive fouls on the massive yet mobile Vogel. Unfortunately for Marion, the referees tolerated their tactics.
Already with two offensive fouls, Vogel scored with just under five minutes left seemingly to put Marion on top by seven points. But the basket was waved off and Vogel was assessed his third offensive foul and fourth overall, relegating him to the bench.
“Their defense was if Dale catches it on the block and turns, at least one or two guys falls down,” Ostmeyer said. “The officials basically took Dale out of the game because he knew if he moved, they (Lyons players) were going to fall down.”
But the temporary loss of Vogel wasn’t the end of the game for Marion.
“We didn’t fall apart with Dale out, but we became hesitant on offense,” Ostmeyer said.
It wasn’t until Blaine Clark hit a 3-point basket to tie the game at 58 that Lyons caught the Warriors.
After a Marion basket to regain a 60-58 lead, Clark struck from long range again to stake Lyons to a 61-60 lead with just 40 seconds to play.
Marion missed its next shot and fouled on the rebound, allowing Clark to score two more points from the foul line.
But Jason Hett answered with a basket to cut the lead back to one point, 63-62 with 12 seconds remaining.
The Warriors fouled once again and Lyons converted one throw to make the score 64-62. A final jumper by Marion was off the mark and Lyons survived with the 2-point win.
Vogel led the Warriors with 25 points followed by Travis Hett with 14.
“Dale scored 12 baskets but only got to the foul line twice,” Ostmeyer said. “He shoots two free throws and gets three offensive fouls called on him. That’s kind of frustrating.”
Clark led the Lions with 29 points, 14 which came in the fourth quarter and eight in the final minute of play.
Marion committed just 12 turnovers while forcing 15. Travis Hett had seven steals for Marion.
“I thought in the Smoky Valley game we kind of lost our composure at the end, but we didn’t do that against Lyons,” Ostmeyer said. “Lyons is a pretty quick and athletic bunch.
“They’ve won at Hesston and Haven, could have beaten Hillsboro and played No. 2 Minneapolis to within eight points, and we go in and basically are in control for 31 minutes and 20 seconds.”
Marion connected on 28 of 66 field-goal attempts (42 percent) while Lyons made 23 of 52 (44 percent). Lyons made 5 of 16 (31 percent) from 3-point land while Marion made only two of 15 (13 percent).
Marion was outscored from the foul line, 18-9.
“We didn’t play well enough defensively in the second half to win the game, but a lot of that was because of fatigue and foul trouble,” Ostmeyer said. “It all adds up, but offensively I couldn’t have been much more pleased.”
With the loss, Marion falls to 7-9 overall and 3-4 in the Mid-Central Activities Association.
Coming-Marion played host to Halstead on Tuesday and will travels to Haven Friday before entertaining Hesston at home on Saturday in a game rescheduled because of snow on Feb. 8.