Marion boys finish fifth at Centre

<p>Blaine Mermis shoots for two against Wakefield Saturday. Mermis led all scorers with 15 points in Marion’s 52-37 fifth-place victory.</p><p>Janae Rempel / Free Press</p>The fourth-seeded Marion boys won their final two games at Centre’s Cougar Classic to finish fifth in the tournament Saturday.

Marion 52, Wakefield 37

Marion put together a solid performance in its fifth-place win over the Bombers Saturday.

Leading 6-5, the Warriors outscored Wakefield, 15-2, in the final 5:07 of the opening quarter, fueled by a defensive intensity that forced 10 Bomber turnovers in the period.

Noah Dalrymple scored eight points to lead all scorers in the quarter, including three baskets in a 1:31 span. Zachary Stuchlik scored on a traditional  three-point play to make it 18-7, and Blaine Mermis drained a three-pointer at the buzzer, extending Marion’s lead to 21-7 at the first break.

The Bombers cut into that lead by making seven of nine attempts in the second quarter, including four three-pointers by Noah Ghent. At the 3:04 mark, Marion’s lead had dwindled to 29-25. The Warriors stretched it to 35-25, but Wakefield scored the final three points of the half for a 35-28 margin at halftime.

The teams played fairly evenly through the third quarter. Mermis scored four of Marion’s nine points in the period, which ended with the Warriors in front, 44-35.

Mermis scored Marion’s final two baskets within the first 2:51 of the fourth quarter. Wakefield made its only basket with 2:42 to go, then Sam Zinn and Stuchlik each made two free-throws to bring it to the final, 15-point spread.

“I saw them all go out there (and play) hard for four quarters,” coach Randy Skiles said. “That’s a big achievement for our kids. They got out of the gate. The second quarter, they took a little bit off, but they got right back into it when they started making some shots.”

Skiles said he’s emphasized the importance of playing with intensity from the start.

“We can’t wait until the second half,” he said. “If we wait until the second half, the better teams are not going to let us get back in it.”

Mermis led all scorers with 15 points. Stuchlik added 14.

Marion 57, Herington 37

For the second game in a row, Marion’s offensive production increased in the second half, this time propelling the Warriors to victory in the consolation semifinals Friday.

The game was tied at halftime, 21-21, but Marion outscored the Railers, 36-16 in the second half to earn the win.

Herington scored the game’s first basket, then missed its next six attempts. Marion took advantage with a 10-0 run before a Railer three-pointer lessened Marion’s lead to 10-5 at the first break.

Herington used a 10-4 run to claim the lead, but by halftime, the teams were tied at 21.

Marion made seven of 10 attempts in the third quarter. Mason Pedersen made two of them to start the period, but Herington used a 5-0 run to claim the lead, 26-25. Sam Zinn drained three- and two-point baskets in succession to put Marion in front, and the Warriors never trailed again.

Zachary Stuchlik scored six of Marion’s final eight points of the quarter, which ended with Marion leading, 38-30.

Marion outscored the Railers, 19-7, in the final quarter, aided by 7-for-11 shooting from the field. Herington, meanwhile, made two field goals—both three-pointers—in 10 attempts, and scored once from the charity stripe.

Pedersen led the Warrior charge with eight points in the quarter, including a pair of threes. Stuchlik added seven points, draining a trey with 2:28 left in the game to bring it to what became the final, 57-37, margin.

“I think the second half, this game anyway, it was just effort and defense,” coach Randy Skiles said. “We made our defense turn into some offense. We got some easy points. Offensively, we were more patient and we got open looks, and our shots were falling. A lot of nights they’re not going down for us. Tonight they did.”

Stuchlik led Marion with 19 points. Pedersen added 16.

Elyria Christian 61, Marion 58

In a game of two polar opposite halves, Marion rallied to within one possession of the fifth-seeded Eagles but couldn’t quite recover from an 18-point first-half effort in the quarterfinals Tuesday.

Marion made just five of 22 first-half field goals attempted, four of which came in the first quarter. Zachary Stuchlik scored Marion’s first five points, then Nathan Baldwin scored the Warriors’ next seven. The first quarter ended with Elyria Christian in front, 15-12.

Things went downhill quickly, as Marion made just one basket in the second quarter—a two-pointer by Stuchlik at the 3:04 mark—and added four points at the charity stripe. The Eagles, meanwhile, scored 18 points, boosted by a 10-point quarter by Aidan Fields. That led to a 33-18 halftime deficit for Marion.

The Warriors outscored the Eagles, 16-13, in the third quarter. Stuchlik made a three at the buzzer to bring Marion within 46-34.

Marion turned up the intensity in the fourth quarter, starting with a 9-1 run. Blaine Mermis scored a basket 29 seconds in, then Stuchlik made two free-throws. Sam Zinn scored on a traditional three-point play to bring Marion’s crowd to its feet, then Noah Dalrymple scored to bring Marion within 47-43 with 5:52 to play.

The Warriors missed opportunities after that, allowing Elyria to regain a 55-45 lead with 2:24 to play. Evann Heidebrecht later scored twice in a 22-second span to trim the deficit to six, but the Warriors could not make up the difference. Mermis made a three-pointer with 4 seconds left to bring the Warriors within three at the end.

Coach Randy Skiles praised his team for its fourth-quarter effort, saying the Warriors will continue to seek to put together a complete game.

“They played hard,” he said. “We were down to one possession at the end.

“That’s the way they need to play all the time. It has to come from within them. They need to figure it out, what’s going to motivate them and what’s going to get them going.”

Three Warriors scored in double figures, led by Stuchlik with 17 points, Baldwin 15 and Mermis 10.

Coming—Marion (1-2, 5-6) was set to play Belle Plaine Monday, then will play at Council Grove Friday.

COUGAR CLASSIC BOYS

Final round, Jan. 21

Solomon 41, Elyria 38 (1st)

Rural Vista 48, Centre 45 (3rd)

Marion 52, Wakefield 37 (5th)

Herington 39, PBHS 28 (7th)

Second round, Jan. 20

Solomon 59, Rural Vista 44

Elyria Christian 67, Centre 43

Marion 57, Herington 37

Wakefield 47, Peabody-Burns 34

Opening round, Jan. 17

Centre 68, Herington 41

Rural Vista 59, Peabody-Burns 27

Solomon 57, Wakefield 28

Elyria Christian 61, Marion 58

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