Marion boys topped by Southeast of Saline, 54-53

The Marion boys suffered a heartbreaking 54-53 defeat to Southeast of Saline in overtime Friday, in a game that could have been decided in regulation.

The Warriors made 11 of 28 free-throw attempts in the game (39 percent), including just three of 12 in the fourth quarter.

“They can say all they want to coming down the stretch, but if we would’ve made our free-throws, we would’ve never been in that position,” coach Randy Skiles said.

“We had a chance to go up by double digits. Had four consecutive (free-throws), missed four, and then came back and got fouled and missed two more. You can’t win close games like that.”

Marion started the game shooting the ball well. The three-ball carried the Warriors in the first half as six of Marion’s 10 field goals in the half came from beyond the arc.

Eli Hett drained two in the first quarter, including one at the end of the period to give Marion a 12-10 lead at the first break. Warrior blocks on the defensive end contributed to 3-for-16 shooting for SES in the quarter.

When SES went 1-for-7 to start the second quarter, Marion built a 17-12 lead, capped by Sam Zinn’s three-pointer. Hett drained his third trey with 2:37 left in the half, and Zinn later scored a three- and two-point basket in succession to push Marion’s lead to 25-16. An SES basket made it 25-18 at halftime.

Marion cooled in the third quarter, enduring a scoreless stretch lasting 4:08. In that time, SES enjoyed an 11-0 run to take a 31-29 lead.

But Chase Stringer and Zachary Stuchlik each made a basket to put Marion in front, a free-throw by Hett after an SES technical foul and a last-second basket by Stringer gave Marion the edge at the end of the period, 36-31.

In the first 50 seconds of the fourth quarter, thanks in part to another SES technical foul, Marion attempted seven free-throws but made only one.

The Trojans trimmed the lead to three with a three-pointer, then Marion missed two more charity shots. A Trojan two-pointer and a free-throw tied the game. SES later sank two threes in a 29-second span to take a 44-42 lead with 1:53 to play.

Stuchlik completed a three-point play to push Marion in front by one, 45-44. Following an SES miss, Marion got the ball back with less than 30 seconds to play. The Warriors sped up, though, and turned the ball over.

A late foul sent SES to the charity stripe, where the second of two free-throws tied the game at 45. Marion got a look at the basket at the buzzer, but the shot missed its mark.

“I don’t think we had one good possession in the fourth quarter,” Skiles said.

The Warriors made the first four free-throws they attempted in overtime and led 49-47 with 3:11 to go. A back-and-forth battle ensued, and Marion trailed, 53-52 with 45 seconds to play but turned the ball over on its next possession.

SES missed a shot but grabbed the rebound and Marion was whistled for a foul. The Trojans made one of two free-throws for a 54-52 lead with 24 seconds left. Stuchlik made one charity shot to bring Marion within 54-53 with 11 seconds to go. The Warriors forced a turnover but could not get a game-winning shot to fall.

“Give credit to (SES),” Skiles said. “They played hard the second half. Our kids aren’t used to winning yet, but I think they got a little taste of it tonight.”

Marion was 19-for-42 from the field (45 percent), SES 30 percent. Stringer led MHS with 12 points. Hett scored 10.

Coming—The Warriors (0-1) host the Marion Classic tournament this week and will play Remington on Thursday.