Marion boys lose three close games to quality teams at Inman

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN TOM STOPPEL
Although the Marion boys finished with an 0-3 mark at the Inman tournament last week, coach Rex Ostmeyer said he saw encouraging signs of improvement.

“All three of those teams (Inman, Garden Plain and St. John) could make the state tournament,” Ostmeyer said. “They were all good, so they’re teams you can’t have stretches where you don’t score. Every game over there we had small lapses that cost us the game.”

St. John 58, Marion 53- Marion concluded the tournament against a talented team from St. John and the outcome came down to a two-minute stretch in the fourth quarter.

Marion trailed 14-10 after one quarter but closed the gap to 27-25 by halftime.

Although the Tigers stretched the lead to four points, 41-37, after three quarters, Marion was still in position to win.

Playing without the services of senior power forward Josh Kelsey, who was home ill, Marion relied on Jason Hett and Travis Hett for the firepower.

Trailing 49-48, St. John hit back-to-back 3-pointers while Marion misfired on its end to open a seven-point lead and all but decide the outcome.

Jason Hett hit seven of 17 shots from the field and added 11 of 15 from the foul stripe for a game-high 25 points. Travis Hett added 14 points, including a pair of 3-pointers.

“They did all they could,” Ostmeyer said. “We just needed help for them, offensively.”

Marion made only 19 of 51 shots (37.3 percent) from the field while St. John made 53 percent in the second half and 48.6 percent (17-36) for the game.

Burgan led the Tigers with 18 points, including five 3-pointers.

“The St. John coach coached Jackie Stiles in high school and said this kid is a better shooter than she was-but we made him miss more than he made,” Ostmeyer said. “He’s a high school version of (Duke star) J.J. Reddick.”

With the loss, Marion fell to 1-3 for the season.

Garden Plain 72, Marion 61- The Warriors trailed 20-18 after one quarter and 34-27 at halftime before losing an 11-point decision to Garden Plain.

Jason Hett scored 17 points to lead Marion while Travis Hett added 16, including four 3-point baskets, and Josh Kelsey contributed 11.

“They obviously have great athletes,” Ostmeyer said. “They also shot a lot better than I thought they would.”

Marion actually led by one point with 21/2 minutes remaining in the first half, but an 8-0 Garden Plain run put the Warriors behind 34-27 at halftime.

The second half started began as the first ended with another 8-0 Garden Plain run to give them a commanding 42-27 lead.

Marion fought back to within six points in the fourth quarter and had possession of the ball, but three attempts to score failed and Garden Plain captured the win.

“We played a lot better offensively but we just couldn’t stop them,” Ostmeyer said. “We kept shooting ourselves in the foot.”

Garden Plain converted 12 of 16 free throws while Marion made four of six.

Jason Hett led Marion with 17 points; Travis Hett added 16 and Josh Kelsey 11.

Inman 57, Marion 48- Marion kicked off the tournament with a tough loss to the host team on Tuesday night.

Inman jumped to a quick 16-6 lead after one quarter, but Marion battled back to with seven, 24-17, by halftime.

Cold shooting by Marion contributed to its demise as the Warriors hit only 29.2 percent (14-48) for the game.

As would prove to be a theme for the tournament, Marion fought back into contention, cutting the Teuton lead to six in the closing minutes.

Unfortunately, Marion was unable to sink the crucial over-the-hump basket and went on to lose by nine.

Emmanuel Jackson came off the bench to lead the Warriors with 14 points; Calvin Jeffrey added 10.

“Anytime Jason and Travis combine to hit two of 18 from the floor, we’re going to be in trouble,” Ostmeyer said. “But it was encouraging that despite all our troubles we were still right there at the end of the game.”

Coming- Marion was scheduled to host Halstead on Tuesday before wrapping up its pre-holiday schedule at Haven on Friday.

“If we can get a couple of wins this week, we’ll still feel good,” Ostmeyer said. “We finally get to play at home, so we need to come out and play well.”

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