Hope for an undefeated season ended Friday for the Marion boys. On the road facing Heart of America league rival Moundridge, the Warriors’ shaky performance left them trailing 57-48 when the final buzzer sounded.
Despite 71 percent shooting from the charity stripe (15 of 21), Marion hit only 15 of 49 shots from the field (31 percent).
“I’m not real disappointed at how hard we played,” coach Jeff McMillin said. “Probably the thing that’s most disappointing is how we played. We were very uncharacteristic tonight on how we ran offense and how we played defense, and just overall I think we were out-efforted tonight.”
Two Warriors combined to score 45 of Marion’s 48 points. Jordan Hett recorded a game-high 24—8-of-19 from the field, 6-of-6 from the free-throw line—followed by Jacob Harper with 21 (6-for-21, 8-for-10).
The Warriors opened the game with a three-point lead courtesy of a Harper free throw and a basket by Hett, then led 9-5 at the 3:39 mark when Harper sank a shot. But Moundridge soon took the reins with an 11-0 run to the end the first quarter with a 16-9 advantage.
“They’re a good team,” McMillin said of the Wildcats. “We should’ve been up to the challenge a little bit more than we were. They wanted it more than we did. That’s not a good thing. That’s not where we want to be.”
Forcing turnovers on defense, Marion opened the second quarter with a 7-0 run to tie the game at 16 when Harper nailed a three-point basket with 5:47 before half. The Warriors later tied the game at 18, but as time expired in the half, they trailed 28-24.
Rebounding was one of the keys to the game. Marion grabbed 20, but McMillin credited Moundridge with being more aggressive.
“We did fight for the boards most of the time, but that’s a team that, again, you’ve got to be very relentless in going to the offensive or to the defensive glass against a team like that because they won’t stop,” he said. “They scored several points off putbacks that they beat us to those balls.”
The Warriors came out after halftime to post back-to-back baskets by Harper and Hett to take a 29-28 lead with 7:01 left in the third period, but it would be the Warriors’ final lead of the night.
Hett contributed 11 of the Warriors’ 17 fourth-quarter points, but his effort was not enough to regain the advantage.
McMillin said he is hopeful his team will return to the same confidence and style of playing to which they are accustomed.
“If it’s a one-time thing, then I guess you’re bound to have those ups and downs,” he said. “We haven’t had very many downs this year, so hopefully we can get back on the upward swing pretty quick.”
The loss dropped Marion to 1-1 in the HOA and 7-1 overall. Moundridge improved to 2-1 and 5-2.
Coming—Marion was scheduled to host Sedgwick (1-1, 5-2) Tuesday, then will participate in the Centre Classic tournament Jan. 15-19.