The Marion girls came back from a 13-point second-quarter deficit against second-seeded Thomas More Prep to send the game into overtime — only to see victory slip away, 61-55, Thursday in the semifinals of the Trojan Classic in Hillsboro.
The Warriors, seeded No. 3, started slowly against the Monarchs, trailing 7-0 after the first 2:30. The Warriors didn?t get a field goal until Kayley Heerey drained a long-range 3-pointer at the 3:53 mark. Lindsay Hett chipped in a pair of 3s before the quarter ended to cap a 13-8 Warrior surge that narrowed TMP?s lead to 15-14 at the break.
In the second quarter, the Monarchs? first four baskets came from behind the arc — three by Sophia Schippers — as they vaulted to a 27-17 lead with 4:23 left in the half. The margin grew as big as 33-20 before narrowing to nine by halftime, 35-26.
After three quarters, Marion still trailed, 45-38, but showed signs of recovery, thanks to better defensive pressure. The Monarchs were leading 49-39 when a 3-pointer by Heerey at the 5:06 mark started another Warrior surge. Julia Zeiner energized it with consecutive baskets off of steals to cut the margin to 49-46 with 2:50 to go. After another TMP turnover, Heerey scored on a drive with 2:20 left. The Monarchs got a break when Kaylee Hoffman tried to toss a pass across the lane along the baseline; the ball hit the side of the backboard and bounced back into Hoffman?s hands, who scored the easy lay-in for a 51-48 lead with 1:41 to play.
Despite Marion?s more aggressive defense, the Warriors had committed only three fouls to that point of the second half, and frantically began fouling to get the Monarchs to the free-throw line. They accomplished that goal with 30.4 seconds, and Hoffman promptly missed her one-and-one oportunity. Marion came down court and Whitney Gordon drained a 3-pointer from the corner — her only attempt of the game — with 17.7 seconds left to send the game into overtime at 51-51.
Marion?s Julia Zeiner scored the first basket of the extra period, but the Monarchs regained their poise and made six of nine free throws down the stretch on the way to the five point win.
Zeiner finished with 17 points to lead Marion, while Heerey added 14 and Gordon 12. Schippers led TMP with 18. including four 3-pointers. Hoffman added 16 and Jessa Stramel 15.
Marion (8-2) will take on Hesston (9-2) for third place at 2:45 p.m. Saturday while TMP will take on Hillsboro for the title at 8:15 p.m.
(Free Press photos by Brad Wiseman)