Marion advances to 3A state final with 42-41 win against Jefferson County North

For the second time in eight days, the Marion girls’ basketball team has knocked off a one-loss team in the closing seconds.

March 4, the Warriors upset 20-1 Burlington 54-52 in the semifinal round of the 3A Eureka sub-state tournament in Eureka.

Friday, No. 6 seeded Marion defeated No. 2 seeded Winchester-Jefferson County North (23-1) 42-41 in the semifinal round of the 3A state tournament in Hutchinson.

Senior Julia Zeiner said Marion likes the underdog role.

?People don?t expect Marion to come and do this, and we do,? said Zeiner. ?It?s nice coming out of nowhere.?

?We?re used to playing Hesston, Hillsboro, Collegiate,? said Marion coach Randy Savage. ?We?re prepared to play good teams.?

The go-ahead point against the Chargers was scored by senior Lindsay Hett. The senior guard knocked down the game-winning free throw with 11.6 seconds left in the game. Going to the line, Hett had only one thing on her mind.

?I need to make these two free throws,? Hett sai. ?I was just trying to control the adrenaline rush. Just trying to take deep breaths.?

Following Hett?s made free throw and a Charger timeout, the collective Marion faithful gasped for the last 4.4 seconds as Jefferson County North?s Jordan Kramer drove to the basket and shook free for long enough to get off a shot. It bounced high off the glass and into the hands of Marion as the buzzer sounded.

Kramer was 10-for-20 from the field for 24 points before the final attempt.

?We knew they?d go to No. 3 (Kramer),” said Savage. ?That was pretty obvious.?

With 57 seconds left in the game and a 41-40 Marion advantage, Zeiner picked up her fifth foul during a hustle play for a loose ball under the Marion basket. Zeiner watched her teammates pull out the win from the bench.

?I had faith in them, I knew they could do it.? said Zeiner. ?It?s tough sitting there and knowing you can?t do anything, but we won so it?s all good.?

Zeiner and Hett combined for 12 points in the last five minutes to come back from a 35-30 deficit. A three by Zeiner with 3:25 moved the Warriors within 37-35. Hett scored a layup with 1:38 remaining to give the Warriors a 41-40 advantage, Marion?s first lead since the 1:20 mark in the third quarter.

The fourth quarter comeback was the second of the game for the Warriors. Kayley Heerey sparked a 6-1 run in the final 38 seconds of the first half to cut the Charger lead to 16-15 going into the locker room. Heerey?s two 3-pointers ended a 9:07 scoreless streak.

Zeiner led the Warriors with 13 points, nine rebounds, three assists, three steals. Hett finished with 10 points, seven rebounds, three assists. Heerey scored 10 points and grabbed six rebounds. Whitney Gordon contributed four points, eight rebounds, and two blocked shots. Kristen Steinborn worked the boards for six rebounds.

Marion will participate in its first Class 3A state championship game tomorrow at 4 p.m in Hutchinson. The Warriors will play No. 1 seeded Thomas More Prep (24-1). TMP defeated No. 4 Garden Plain (19-6) 52-42 in?the other semifinal game on Friday.

Marion lost to Thomas More Prep in overtime 61-56?in the semifinals of the Trojan Classic in Hillsboro on Jan. 21.

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