Marion and Hillsboro fans went home with the gift of a victory as well as a lump-of-coal defeat on the last basketball games before Christmas. The Marion and Hillsboro girls battled to the end before the Warriors claimed a 36-35 victory over the host Trojans on a basket by Marion’s Alli Molleker with 30 second left in the game.
The boys’ game seemed to be heading down the same path before the Trojans locked down a 53-41 victory with a 15-9 fourth-quarter.
GIRLS–With Marion leading 8-5 with 3:32 left in the opening quarter, the Warriors hit a rough stretch of seven turnovers and scored only two free throws. Even so, the Warriors only trailed Hillsboro, 14-10, as the quarter ended.
The two teams battled evenly the entire second quarter but a 2-point basket by Molleker put the Warriors in front at halftime, 20-19.
Marion appeared to take charge in the third quarter with a 6-2 surge for a 26-21 led, but Hillsboro got a 2-point basket by Tuesday Weisbeck and a 3-pointer from Abby Sechrist in the final 3 minutes to tie the game at 26 as the quarter ended.
The final quarter was a battle of wills. Marion built a 32-28 lead when Kourtney Hansen scored with 3:41 remaining. But Hillsboro’s Trinity Malm responded with a basket in the lane 15 seconds later, then freshman Teegan Werth followed with a 3-pointer with 2:37 left to put the Trojans on top, 33-32. Both teams made two free throws to make the score 35-34 with 1:08 left before Molleker scored what turned out to be the winning basket.
Hansen led the Warrior attack with 13 points, including 7-for-11 shooting from the free-throw line. She also pulled down a team-leading 10 rebounds. As a team, Marion shot 13-37 (35 percent) from the floor but 9-13 (70 percent) from the line.
No one reached double-digit points for Hillsboro, but Sienna Kaufman led the team with eight points. Abby Sechrist and Teegan Werth each added seven points. The Trojans made 11 of 49 shots from the floor (22 percent) including two of 11 from behind the arc. The team’s 11-for-20 shooting from the free-throw line may have cost them the win.
With the victory, Marion improves to 4-2 at the holiday break, while Hillsboro slips to 4-2.
BOYS—It appeared at the start that the boys’ game would follow the same path as the girls’ game did—nail-biting close all the way to the finish line. Sure enough, the two teams were tied 14-14 when Hillsboro’s Elias Werth hit a 3-pointer with a second left.
Both teams suffered through a dry second quarter. Hillsboro managed only three baskets in 13 attempts while Marion made only one of 11. With less than 2 minutes left in the half, the Trojans led 19-17. But a late 6-2 surge game the home team a 25-19 lead at intermission.
In the first minute of the third quarter, Chase Stringer hit a pair of free throws and Sam Zinn nailed a 3-pointer to pull the Warriors to within 25-24. Marion then took a 28-27 when Stringer scored in the paint at the 5:12 mark. When Zinn scored with 1:06 left in the quarter the game was tied at 32. But in the final 52 seconds, Werth and Caleb Rempel hit back-to-back 3-point baskets to give Hillsboro a 38-32 lead as the buzzer sounded.
The Trojans began the final quarter with a 9-5 spurt that gave them a double-digit lead at 47-37 with 2:42 to play. Hillsboro nailed down the win with a 6-2 edge in the final 1:56.
The Trojans were led by their talented guards, Darian Ratzlaff with a game-high 20 points and Werth with 13 points. As a team, the Trojans made less than 32 percent (18-57) from the floor but made 11 of 13 free throws.
Evann Heidebrecht led Marion with 14 points and Zinn added 10 to pace the Warriors. As a team, Marion shot 31 percent (16-52) from the floor and made six of 12 free throws. Neither team shot particularly well behind the arc: Hillsboro 6-20 (30 percent) and Marion 3-12 (25 percent).
The win improved Hillsboro’s record to 5-1 while Marion slipped to 2-4.
COMING— Hillsboro will resume competition Jan. 2 when the Trojans travel to Nickerson. Marion’s next games will be Jan. 5 at Ell-Saline.