After the Marion girls? final regular-season game at Smoky Valley, coach Randy Savage said the Warriors would have to step it up on the defensive end. Finishing Tuesday night?s sub-state opener against Neodesha with 18 steals and 10 blocked shots in a 67-42 victory in Marion, the Warriors appear to be focused on doing that.
However, Savage thinks they can play even better on the defensive end.
?It was better, but it?s not good enough,? said Savage. ?They?ve played better defense than that. It was a step in the right direction but it?s got to be better.?
Marion was led on the defensive end by senior Lindsay Hett, who finished with seven steals, five blocks, and six rebounds. Hett knows it?s going to take the Warriors’ best effort to get through sub-state.
?We knew defense was the key throughout this sub-state bracket,? she said. ?We?re just going to try our best to keep playing great defense. Our defense is our main priority right now, than go off of that with our offense.?
Marion turned up the defensive intensity in the second quarter, using Neodesha turnovers to create easy baskets for Julia Zeiner to jump to a 26-12 lead with 2:45 to play in the half. The 14-point advantage came courtesy of 14-2 run by Marion to start the second quarter.
The Bluestreaks closed the gap to six with under 30 seconds to play in the first half, thanks to an 8-0 spurt. Hett closed the second half with a pull-up, deep two with time ticking down, to end the half 28-20 Marion.
Marion broke open the contest, outscoring Neodesha 12-5 in the first 4:45 of the third quarter to give the Warriors a 40-25 advantage. Marion ended the quarter with a 20-point lead.
Marion scored five consecutive points in the final 30 seconds of the third quarter. Bridget Lundy scored the first basket by hitting a three. Hett followed, stripping away one of her seven steals and converting on the offensive end.
Zeiner led all scorers with 24 points and 11 rebounds. Hett had 13. Lundy and Kayley Heerey contributed seven. Heerey also had four steals along with Kristen Steinborn. Whitney Gordon returned from injury to score six points. Chassidy Carlson had five.
Neodesha was led by Taylor Giger with 17 points.
Marion advances to the Eureka sub-state semifinal round and will play 19-1 Burlington Friday in Eureka. Game time is 6 p.m. Burlington defeated Erie 57-15 Tuesday night to advance to the semifinals.
Neodesha finishes its season with an 11-10 record.