Marion girls advance to semifinals of state with 49-44 win against Beloit.

Holding No. 3 seeded Beloit (18-6) to 26.3 percent shooting, the No. 6 seeded Marion girls (19-5) held off a second-half Trojan surge to advance to the Class 3A state tournament semifinals with a 49-44 first-round win Thursday in Hutchinson.

With Julia Zeiner and Whitney Gordon on the bench with four fouls?early in?the fourth quarter, Beloit scored four unanswered points to cut Marion?s third-quarter ending 34-29 lead to 36-33 with five minutes to play.

Zeiner returned to the game and extended the Warrior lead back to five on a fast-break layup, set up by a Kayley Heerey assist from past half court. After a Beloit basket, Heerey was fouled on a three-point attempt. The senior knocked two of the three charity throws to widen the Warrior lead to 42-37.

Up 42-38 with 3:17 left to play, Marion maintained possession of the basketball until the 1:41 mark. Marion moved the ball, playing keep away from the Trojans. The Warriors attempted two shots during the 1:36 possession. Lindsay Hett attempted the first shot, a 10-foot jumper that was off the mark and rebounded by the Warriors. The second shot ended the Marion possession with two points as Zeiner was fouled on the miss and made the two ensuing free throws to give Marion a 44-38 lead.

Even though Marion?s long possession stalled the Beloit momentum, Beloit did not give up. With 50 seconds left to play, Bailey Brown hit a baseline jump shot to bring the Trojans to within four.

Marion scored three straight points shooting three-of-four from the foul line to go up 47-40 with 31.7 seconds left.

After two missed Marion free throws, Beloit had an opportunity to make it a one-possession game, but Kalli Kruse missed the three-point attempt and fouled out when she put Hett at the line with 4.4 seconds to play.

Hett missed both attempts, giving the Trojans another opportunity to make it a one-possession ball game. With 1.6 seconds left, Brown sunk two free throws to move the Trojans to within three at 47-44. Brown was fouled by Marion?s Erin Meierhoff to reach the free-throw line.

Inbounding the ball successfully following the Brown free throws, Marion sealed the game with two Zeiner foul shots with 0.8 of a second left.

Marion held as much as a 12-point lead in the ball game. In the second quarter the Warrior went on a 12-1 run to take a 25-13 advantage. Beloit ended the first half scoring six straight and opened the second half with five consecutive points?to cut the Marion lead to 25-24 with five minutes to play in the third.

Zenier led all scorers with 17 points, eight rebounds and three assists. Hett finished with 12 points, eight rebounds, three assists and three steals. Kayley Heerey had five points, seven rebounds and two steals. Whitney Gordon contributed seven points, on three-of-four shooting.

Tegan Dunstan and Cami Englebert led Beloit with 12 points.

Marion? will play No. 2 seeded Jefferson County North (23-1) in at 3 p.m. Friday in the semifinals at the Hutchinson Sports noon. Jefferson County North defeated No.?7 seeded Frontenac (17-7) 54-39 Thursday afternoon in the first round. In other 3A?state tournament action, No. 5 seeded Hillsboro (18-6)?fell to? No.?4 seeded Garden Plain (19-5) 55-47. No. 1 seeded Thomas More Prep (24-1)?beat No. 8 seeded Riley County (13-11) 57-47.

(Free Press photos by Don Ratzlaff)


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