ORIGINALLY WRITTEN TOM STOPPEL
Whether you “Leiker” or not, Andrea Leiker was the key player in Lyons 76-58 win over the Marion girls in the first round of sub-state play Monday in Lyons.
The senior led all scorers with 30 points, but many of them came on easy baskets off Marion turnovers in the open court.
“We fought but we just didn’t execute throughout the game,” Marion coach Daryl Enos said. “When you get to this level, you have to execute for 32 minutes and we didn’t do that tonight.”
Early, it looked like the Warriors might have enough to take the pride out of the Lions. Behind eight first-quarter points by Leiker, Lyons led by seven points on two occasions but Marion whittled the lead to three, 15-12, after the first eight minutes.
After Leiker opened the second period with five straight points, Enos changed to a man-to-man defense.
The ploy effectively shut down Leiker but opened the middle for Jessica Steffan, who poured in nine second-quarter points.
The Warriors trailed by as many as 15, 27-12, with 3:27 to play in the half, before cutting the margin to 33-21 at halftime.
Enos said he changed defenses because the Warriors’ zone was ineffective.
“Steffan hurt us inside,” he said. “But our zone and press weren’t that effective so we had to do something different.
“We played man to man and that actually got us back into the game right before halftime.”
But the third quarter was more of the same as Leiker canned a 3-point shot to start the scoring.
Although the lead swelled to 17 points at 46-29 with 5:39 to play in the third quarter, Marion fought back to cut the lead to 48-36 behind a 3-point basket from Allie Maddox and four straight points from Sarah Williams.
But that was as close as the Warriors would get as Lyons scored 22 points to lead 55-42 after three periods.
“We didn’t shoot very well and we seemed like we were sluggish this evening,” Enos said. “We got a lot of close shots down low but we just couldn’t finish them.
“We didn’t put enough pressure on them and their pressure wasn’t that good but we just couldn’t take advantage of it.”
Leading by 13 points, Lyons converted 11 of 14 free throws in the final period to nail down the 18-point victory.
Maddox led the Warriors with 21 points followed by Williams and Leann Thomas with 11 each.
“Allie made some put-backs off offensive rebounds,” Enos said. “She had a good night offensively for us.”
Marion shot 36 percent from the field while converting seven of 12 free throws.
Lyons made 18 of 27 free throws.
With the loss, Marion concluded its season with a record of 8-13.
“This season really didn’t go like I thought it would,” Enos said. “I thought our record would be a lot better than it was.
“But you have to give our girls credit because they really came back in the last month and made a lot of improvement in their game and play,” he added.
“I thought we were ready to play tonight but I guess we just weren’t.”
Sterling-Easy wins have been few and far between this season for Marion coach Daryl Enos, but the Warriors chalked up a “coaster” Tuesday night in Marion with a 59-46 defeat of Sterling.
“It was a good win for us,” Enos said. “As far as the sub-state seedings go, it really didn’t matter. But it was nice to sit back and enjoy a game for a change.”
Early, the Black Bears appeared ready to challenge Marion for a victory in the final league game for each team as Marion led 19-12 after one quarter.
But in the second quarter, Marion asserted itself while the Black Bears appeared ready for an early hibernation. The Warriors led 36-19 at halftime.
Marion connected on 12 of 23 shots from the field (52 percent) in the half while Sterling managed only eight of 26 (31 percent).
“We shot pretty well and our defense looked good,” Enos said. “They pressured us most of the night, but I told the girls I’m not really worried about teams pressing us anymore because I know we can handle it well.”
By the end of the third quarter, Marion had increased its lead to 52-31, allowing Enos to substitute freely down the stretch.
“I played a lot of kids in the fourth quarter,” he said.
Leading the way for Marion was Leann Thomas with 13 points. She was followed by Sarah Williams and Megan Hudson with nine each and Allie Maddox added eight.
“It was pretty even-steven as far as the scoring went,” Enos said. “We had some good ball movement and the girls played well for the most part.”
Marion concluded the night hitting 20 of 46 (44 percent) of its field-goal tries while limiting Sterling to 19 of 60 (32 percent).
Sterling hit four of 12 shots from beyond the 3-point arc while Marion made four of 10.
Marion helped its cause at the free-throw line, making 15 of 20 compared to just four of seven for Sterling.
The Warriors’ pressure defense forced 29 Black Bear turnovers, which led to 24 points.
“I liked the way our girls worked on defense-that was nice,” Enos said. “Sterling really isn’t that bad.
“It was a great win for us.”
With the victory, Marion improved to 8-12 overall and 3-8 in the Mid Central Activities Association, while Sterling fell to 5-15 and 1-10.