The best teams find a way to win, even on an off night. The Marion boys’ basketball team did just that last Tuesday with a fourth-quarter rally that carried them to a 40-39 home victory over Remington.
“Even the best team doesn’t go a whole year without being tested, and they have to dig in and grind one out,” coach Jeff McMillin said. “And that’s really what tonight was, grinding it out to win the game.”
The Marion girls weren’t so lucky, losing a 39-19 decision to the Broncos.
Boys—Marion came out as flat as week-old Pepsi in the first half of play with breakdowns on defense, a dearth of rebounding and a struggle to score.
“We were flat on defense,” coach Jeff McMillin said. “We didn’t execute our defensive game plan very well and our effort was awful.”
Jordan Hett started hot, landing back-to-back shots and draining a three-pointer to make it 7-7 with 2:43 left in the first quarter. But after the Broncos took a 14-10 lead into the second quarter, things began to get out of hand.
Remington used a five-point run to push the lead to 19-10. After a Marion timeout to regroup, baskets by Jordan Hett and Jacob Harper combined with a three-pointer from Taylor Heidebrecht cut the lead to 22-17 by halftime.
The Warriors looked lack-luster once more as the third quarter started, allowing a 10-4 Remington run. But Hett and Harper joined forces for nine points in the remaining three minutes to shift the momentum in Marion’s favor and make it 34-30 at the end of the third period.
Zac Robson hit a three-pointer seconds into the final quarter. But Marion four straight free throws while Remington made three to make the score 37-33 with five minutes left.
With the comeback slipping away, Heidebrecht nailed a three-pointer and Harper scored on a drive into the paint to give Marion its first lead since the opening minutes, 40-39, with 2:24 remaining.
Marion missed two more free throws, but earned back-to-back stops on defense. Robson pulled in a key rebound as the seconds ticked down and then nabbed a steal to secure the win just before the buzzer.
“He brought us good energy throughout,” McMillin said of Robson. “He helped spark us. When we came back, he was a main contributor.”
Harper recorded 16 points and Hett 14 to lead Marion in a low-scoring contest.
“We needed to be tested, we needed to be pushed,” McMillin said. “It was a good learning experience. “Usually the biggest learning tools are when you lose. We got lucky because we got to learn from an experience but we didn’t have to suffer the defeat.”
Girls—Turnovers in the face of the Broncos’ pressure defense was the theme against Remington.
“We knew coming into the game that Remington was going to bring lots of defensive pressure,” coach Kelly Robson said. “Our inability to handle the pressure tonight cost us any chance to compete for the win.”
With the score tied 2-2 1:30 into the game, the Broncos scored six straight points before Marion’s Corey Shields scored off a rebound. Remington led 10-4 at the end of the quarter.
Briana Hall and Megan Richmond combined for a six-point scoring burst to begin the second quarter, but the Broncos answered with 10 straight points to lead at the break, 24-10.
Turnovers and poor shooting enabled by Marion enabled Remington to build a 31-14 lead by the end of the third period. The trend held true for the final period.
Richmond led the Warriors with seven points.
“Briana Hall played for her longest stretch of the season and really fought hard on the glass,” Robson said. “Kaelyn Thierolf was very sick, but battled hard for everything she could get. We still need to play a more physical inside game defensively, but we’re gaining an understanding of what that means.”
The Warriors missed the ball-handling skills and scoring of Katey Ehrlich, who missed the game because of illness.
“I’ve been pleased with our growth so far this season, but we must get better at handling the basketball, especially under heavy pressure,” Robson said. “I believe the girls have seen our improvements, too.
Coming —Marion will resume competition Jan. 4 with a game at Moundridge.