Berean wins boys title; Marion takes second

With a 50-34 win over Belle Plaine Thursday, the Marion High School boys basketball team assured itself of no worse than second place in the first-ever Marion Classic.

Warrior boys had a tougher time against Berean Academy in the championship game, falling by a 54-37 final score Saturday night.

?I think the games went about as I expected,? coach Jeff McMillen said. ?I wasn't real happy with any of the games, or real upset with any of the games?I just think that we are very early in the building stages of our new program.

?The kids are really trying to pick up what we are trying to institute and we will address the areas of weakness that we have and continue to improve on them as the season progresses and beyond,? he said.

McMillen said that he has seen some of his players picking up his system, but would like to see the Warriors solidify the gains they are making.

?Several players did have moments where they stood out and did the things that we are trying to get them to do, but everyone had relapses back to bad habits that need to be fixed as well,? he said. ?We need more consistent effort and performance?and I am most pleased with several players who are focusing on trying to do that.?

The Warriors have impressed their first-year coach with their cohesiveness.

?Probably the most positive thing I have seen so far, is the team attitude we have displayed,? he said. ?The guys really share the ball, and try to get good shots, and want to be successful as a team rather than as individuals.?

Berean?Marion trailed 5-0 out of the gate and 25-22 after the first half. But MHS allowed a 14-6 run in the third quarter that widened the gap to 39-28 heading into the final frame. Berean outscored Marion 15-6 in the last eight minutes.

Luke Gordon and Elliot Hett scored back-to-back baskets to give Marion its first lead, 8-7, with 1:53 left in the first half.

Isaac Hett knotted it at 12-12 to start the second quarter, and Mitchell Leppke knocked down consecutive 3-pointers for an 18-17 Marion lead 3:58 before halftime.

Elliot Hett pushed the MHS lead to three, 20-17, with a pair of foul shots, but Berean closed out the quarter with an 8-2 run.

No single Marion player shot better than 50 percent from the field, as MHS shot just 2-for-22 during the second half.

Marion out-chanced Berean nearly by a 2-to-1 ratio at the foul line, but made only 13 of 21 free throws.

Elliot Hett led MHS in scoring with 9 points, while Leppke and Eric Vogel had 6 apiece.

Belle Plaine?Marion led 30-17 at the intermission. The key sequence of the first half came early in the first quarter, when the Marion defense stiffened after allowing the Dragons to climb out of an early 5-2 hole.

Trailing 6-5, Eric Vogel knocked down a short jump shot that kicked off an 8-0 run.

Elliot Hett followed Vogel’s basket with a layup that precipitated a Belle Plaine timeout with 2:53 to go in the quarter, but the Marion defense forced jump balls on back-to-back possessions, the second of which sustained the run after Mitchell Leppke scored on a short-range floater.

Luke Gordon dominated the early part of the second quarter, pushing the Warriors lead to 16-8 with a 10-foot fallaway jump shot and then to 20-8 with a jumper from the elbow. Gordon also blocked two shots defensively during the sequence.

In the third quarter, Vogel figured prominently in the sequence that gave Marion its largest lead of the evening.

He knocked down a tough shot after making a power move in the post, then assisted on a Fruechting layup with a sharp interior pass.

Belle Plaine dialed up its desperation in the fourth quarter and outscored the Warriors 17-9, but never closed the gap within 16.

Coming?Marion (2-1) visited Hesston Tuesday and travels to Moundridge Friday. The Warriors resume play Jan. 6 at Ellinwood.

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