Despite an impressive comeback by the Marion boys in tonight’s sub-state road game with Sterling, the Warriors fell 58-52. The loss gives them an 8-13 record overall and ends their season.
Marion faltered early against a big, physical Sterling team, allowing several second-chance points and struggling to rebound. Sterling posted its largest lead of the game, 27-15, with four minutes left in the quarter. The Black Bears outscored the Warriors by 11 points in the first quarter, leading 21-10 at the break. It looked like it could easily be a first-round blowout win for Sterling.
But, a Marion team that has fought hard all season wasn’t done yet. The Warriors began to find their footing in the second quarter, creeping up on the Black Bears and outscoring them 11-8 in the quarter, thanks to three-point baskets from Jordan Versch and Mikael Antoszyk at the beginning of the quarter and with 24 seconds left before the half. The Warriors trailed Sterling by eight points, 29-21, at halftime.
Building off momentum from the second quarter, Marion hit the ground running in the third quarter. The Warriors continued to make shots from beyond the arc, patiently narrowing the Black Bears’ lead. With 20 seconds remaining, Jacob Harper scored to put the Warriors within one, 38-37. Marion almost doubled Sterling’s points in the third quarter, 16-9.
Play heated up even more entering the fourth quarter. Dillon Richmond scored with 7:19 left to tie the game at 40. Sterling pulled ahead, but Jordan Hett tied it again at 42 in front of a hushed Sterling crowd. Two minutes later Antoszyk hit another three-pointer to give the Warriors the lead, 47-45, with five minutes left to play. But the Black Bears rallied with a 6-2 run to lead, 51-49. A three-pointer with a minute left gave them a four-point lead, 54-50. Richmond’s free throws kept the Warriors within a basket of tying the game as the clock wound down, but foul trouble for the Warriors in the last few seconds of the game let Sterling escape with the hard-fought win, 58-52.
Strong shooting from beyond the arc fueled the Warriors’ comeback, with Marion scoring 12 points from three-point range compared to Sterling’s six. The Warriors also had success at the line, making 13 of 20 free throws, and shot 44.4 percent from the floor. However, the Black Bears out-rebounded the Warriors 34-20, and outscored Marion by five in the fourth quarter.
Harper led the Warriors with 16 points, followed by Richmond with 10. Hett and Versch each contributed nine points, despite Versch getting only 15 minutes of play time due to early foul trouble and fouling out with 1:26 left in the game. Guy Oden led Sterling with 13 points, and teammate Trea Lott added 10.