Marion boys lose two HOA games

Zachary Stuchlik drives inside during the second half at Bennington Friday. Stuchlik led Marion’s scoring effort in the Warriors’ 68-37 loss. The Marion boys suffered their first two Heart of America losses last week to move to 1-2 in league play, 3-5 overall.

Bennington—Marion hung with the Bulldogs for a quarter Friday, but in the end, the Bulldogs’ hot shooting and defensive pressure proved too much for the Warriors in a 68-37 loss.

Marion trailed by two, 10-8, when Blaine Mermis scored at the 2:44 mark, then Bennington scored three consecutive baskets before Mermis scored again, making the score at the end of the first quarter, 16-10, in favor of Bennington.

Bennington opened the second quarter with a three-pointer, and, when Marion managed just two free-throws in the first 5:13, the Bulldogs burst to a 28-12 lead. Peyton Heidebrecht made Marion’s fifth basket in 16 attempts with 2:47 left in the half. Two Bulldog threes in the final 31 seconds built the home team’s lead to 34-18 at intermission.

Marion made just one of the first six shots it attempted in the third quarter. Zachary Stuchlik added a pair of free-throws, but by the midway point of the period, Bennington had built a 45-22 lead. By the end of the quarter, the Bulldogs led, 55-30.

An 11-5 onslaught pushed Bennington over the 30-point margin, putting a running clock into effect with 2:52 to play. Each team scored once after that, bringing it to the final, 31-point spread.

“(Bennington) shot the ball well, but we didn’t do a very good job, defensively, finding the shooter and knowing where they were at,” coach Randy Skiles said. “Just some little things that we talked about, we need to fix, defensively, as far as our rotation goes. We’ve got to do the little things right in order for us to get the big things accomplished.”

Stuchlik led the team with 13 points.

Remington—Marion dug itself a hole too deep from which to recover, despite solid play down the stretch in Tuesday’s 53-44 loss.

The Warriors made just one of their first 10 attempts in the opening quarter. The Broncos, on the other hand, were red-hot, making nine of their first 13. That combination led to a 19-3 Remington lead at the first break.

Marion missed its first four shots of the second quarter before Peyton Heidebrecht lifted the lid on the bucket with a two-pointer three minutes in. By halftime, Remington led, 27-10.

Coach Randy Skiles did not have many positive things to say about his team’s first-half.

“Offensively, we weren’t very patient,” he said. “De­fen­sively, we weren’t playing hard, we weren’t working hard, we weren’t rebounding.”

The Warriors looked like a different team in the second half. Having made four of 22 attempts (18 percent) before halftime, the War­riors made 15 of 26 after (58 percent).

Marion went on a 6-2 run to start the third quarter and the teams traded baskets. With the Warriors trailing, 35-20, Mason Pedersen scored, the first of four made baskets on consecutive possessions for Marion. By the time Pedersen scored again with 17 seconds left, Marion had cut the deficit to single digits, 37-28. A Bronco free-throw as time expired made it 38-28 at the final break.

Remington outscored Marion, 9-4, to start the fourth quarter, then the Warriors enjoyed a 7-2 stretch capped by a three-pointer by Sam Zinn with 1:54 to play. The teams traded scores, and Pedersen scored the game’s final basket—a three-pointer—with 4 seconds left, bringing Marion within nine.

Skiles praised his team for its improved play down the stretch.

“The second half, I felt like we were more patient offensively,” he said. “We were getting good shots. We were sending more people to the boards, defensively. We tried to climb out of the hole, and it just was too deep. We couldn’t get out.”

Pedersen led the team with 18 points.

Coming—Marion will compete in Centre’s Cougar Classic tournament this week. First-round games were played Tuesday. The boys, as the No. 4 seed, faced No. 5 Elyria Christian.

Also in the field are No. 1 Centre, No. 2 Rural Vista, No. 3 Solomon, No. 6 Wake­field, No. 7 Peabody-Burns and No. 8 Herington.

The tournament will continue Friday and conclude Saturday. Visit hillsborofreepress.com for same-night reporting.

Marion will play Belle Plaine Monday at Wichita Trinity at 7 p.m. in a game rescheduled from Dec. 17.

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