The Marion boys came into the championship game of the Marion Classic with a 2-0 record after wins over Berean Academy and Belle Plaine. But the Warriors fell Saturday at the hands of also-unbeaten Eureka, 55-39.
?One of the things we wanted to do is be the more aggressive team, and we weren?t the more aggressive team,? coach Jeff McMillin said. ?On our offensive end and their defensive end, they were (more) aggressive.
?I think that it was a little more even on the other end when we were on defense and they were on offense, but they took us out of a lot of what we wanted to do.?
Eureka?s defense was a key factor.
?They gave us trouble on our ball screens,? McMillin said. ?One of the main things we told them is that a team that pressures you so much on the perimeter, you can make it to your advantage if (you?re) more aggressive.
?A little bit toward the end of the game?it was too late probably by that time?but we started getting more aggressive. I wish we could?ve taken that approach a little bit earlier before it was probably too late.?
Tim Knolla started the game for Marion with a free throw within the first minute, but Eureka claimed the lead at the 5:56 mark and never trailed again. Eureka led 13-10 at the end of the first quarter.
Zach Robson scored 20 seconds into the second quarter, but Eureka created some separation with a 5-0 run.
The Warriors trailed 24-17 with 3:23 left in the first half, but a basket by Bret Voth and two free throws from Grif Case narrowed the lead to 24-21 by halftime.
Eureka used a 6-0 run to build a 30-21 lead before Jones scored at 5:08. A Eureka three-pointer extended the lead to 33-23.
Consecutive scores by Taylor Heidebrecht, Jones and Robson later narrowed Eureka?s lead to 35-30 with 2:22 left in the third period. But the Tornadoes pushed it back to 42-33 going into the final quarter.
Eureka extended its lead to double figures with 6:52 to go, and Marion was unable to make up the difference. Tornadoes led by 16 when time expired.
Jones led Marion with 12 points. Robson, Jones and Case were named to the all-tournament team.
?We won?t hang our heads,? McMillin said. ?That?s what I really like about this group is when things start unraveling, they don?t quit. It kind of speaks well for how we?re going to be playing at the end of the year.?
MHS 61, Belle Plaine 38
Second round, Friday
Marion never trailed during its 61-38 victory over Belle Plaine.
?Coming back after less than 24 hours from a pretty emotional win, we really tried to guard against being too emotionally drained,? coach Jeff McMillin said.
?We knew this team we were playing today wasn?t as good as the team we played (Thursday), so we had to really guard against the let-down, and I think, for the most part, we did.
?We definitely were more sluggish at times than we were last night, and I guess that?s something we should?ve stressed more, but overall we played pretty hard.?
The Warriors enjoyed a 10-0 lead after Bret Voth scored with 3:18 left in the first period. Grif Case contributed six of Marion?s first 10 points. The first quarter ended with Marion in front, 16-5.
That margin remained the same at halftime, with Marion leading 28-17.
Twice, the Dragons drew within seven, the last time at 30-23 with 5:08 left in the third quarter. But a 5-0 run thanks to back-to-back baskets by Zach Robson and Taylor Heidebrecht secured the Warriors a double-digit lead the rest of the night.
The Warriors led 43-27 at the end of the third quarter, and later used a 10-0 run to build a 57-34 lead with 3:52 to play. McMillin later cleared his bench on the way to the 23-point win.
Case led all scorers with 16 points. Jacob Baldwin added 12 and James Jones 10.
MHS 44, Berean 42
First round, Thursday
Marion?s two-point, 44-42, win over Berean began with a three-point basket by Tim Knolla 15 seconds in. But Berean surged to a 13-3 lead after back-to-back three-pointers with 2:11 left in the first quarter.
?We just started real cold,? coach Jeff McMillin said. ?We called a timeout when we went down 10, and I tried to stay calm because I wanted the boys to stay calm, and they did.
?They did a real good job of not coming out and trying to shoot a 12-pointer to get us back in the game. They chipped away at it one possession at a time like we always talk about doing.?
Berean drained four three-point baskets in the first period for a 16-6 lead at the quarter break.
?The big mantra that we always have is to play the same no matter what the score is?up by 30, down by 30?and they did,? McMillin said. ?I didn?t see the expression on their face change when Berean was hitting shots. We never strayed from our defensive plan.?
After Berean scored to start the second period, Marion began to chip away at the Berean lead, using a 6-0 run to draw within 18-12 with 4:54 left before intermission. Knolla drained a three-pointer with 4 seconds left to narrow the gap to 25-21 at halftime.
?We stayed with it and (Berean) eventually cooled off and we eventually started hitting some shots, so that?s what got us back into it,? McMillin said. ?Once we got back into it, I think we settled down and we just played from there.?
After Taylor Heidebrecht tied the game at 27 with a three-point basket with 4:18 left in the third quarter, Knolla followed with a basket to give Marion a 29-27 lead. The lead grew to three points, but Berean tied the game at 31 with a three-pointer as the third expired.
The fourth quarter saw the teams tied twice more before Marion took the lead for good with 3:35 remaining on a Zach Robson basket to make the score 38-36.
Marion led 41-36 with 1:40 left in the game, but Berean used two three-point baskets to narrow the gap to 43-42 with 31 seconds left.
Heidebrecht made a free throw with 23 seconds to go. Berean missed a three-point attempt but rebounded the ball and called timeout with 3.7 seconds remaining. Berean?s shot at the buzzer did not fall, and Marion escaped with the win.
?Anytime you can beat (Berean) is good, and let alone, have a little bit of toughness in fighting back from a deficit to beat them,? McMillin said. ?I was really proud?for both of those reasons?of the boys.?
Knolla led Marion with 17 points. Robson added 10.
Coming?Marion (2-2)?will host Canton-Galva (2-2) Thursday at 7:30 p.m.