Marion girls to close out pre-holiday schedule

Kourtney Hansen shoots for two while guarded by Rebecca Kaufman during the first half Tuesday. Hansen led all scorers with 14 points in Marion’s 44-25 win.<p>The Marion girls earned a 44-25 victory over Hillsboro Tuesday in both teams’ final outing before the holiday break.

The game remained close for the first half, with Marion holding a 20-16 advantage at intermission. But the Warriors outscored Hillsboro 24-9 in the second half to win by 19.

Hillsboro coach Nathan Hiebert said execution was a factor in the game getting out of the Trojans’ reach in the second half.

“Marion’s key is to get transition buckets,” Hiebert said. “I would say maybe half of their points were off slow, sloppy passes on our part and not meeting the pass—things we talked about that we just can’t give them.”

Abby Sechrist scored the game’s first basket, then Marion went on a 6-0 run. A basket by Paige Proffitt followed by two free-throws from Rebecca Kaufman tied the game, then two charity shots by Courtney Herzet gave Marion the advantage at the first break, 8-6.

Hillsboro missed its first four shots of the second quarter—having made two of 13 attempts to that point—and Marion took advantage with baskets by Alli Molleker, Taelyn Pagel and Kourtney Hansen to build a 14-6 lead.

Sechrist drained a three to ignite an 8-2 Trojan run capped by a three-pointer by Savannah Unruh that closed the gap to 16-14. Marion led, 20-16 at halftime.

Hansen scored off a steal at the 6:43 mark to put Marion in front, 22-16, then Callie Linnens scored three times in a 57-second span. Her third basket brought Hillsboro within 23-22 with 4:53 left in the third quarter. Those were Hillsboro’s final points of the period, though, as the Trojans missed their next five attempts.

Meanwhile, Pagel drained a three-pointer to ignite a 9-0 Warrior run. Molleker grabbed her own rebound and scored with one second left, boosting Marion’s lead to double figures by the end of the third quarter, 32-22.

Marion’s lead remained in double figures the rest of the way, as the Warriors outscored Hillsboro 12-3 in the final period to earn the win.

“In the first half, we lost our guards a little bit as they were screening us,” Marion coach Kelly Robson said. “So many of us are playing first-year varsity basketball, and that’s part of what we’ve got to grow in (is) getting in the help position, not getting trapped by a screen. Hillsboro does a good job of screening, and I think we figured out a little bit tonight how to get off of that.”

The Warriors made 41 percent of their shots from the field (14-for-34), compared with 25 percent for the Trojans (9-for-36).

Hansen led all scorers with 14 points for Marion. Pagel added 12. Marion defenders Jessi Lewman (15) and Marissa Jacobson converge on Hillsboro’s Mesa Merrell as she attempts to drive to the basket during the first half.<p>

Linnens was Hillsboro’s high scorer with nine points.

Marion takes a 5-1 record into the holiday break, and Robson said he is pleased with what his team has done thus far.

“I think we’ve beaten the teams we should’ve beaten, and we were there with Berean,” he said. “I feel good about that, especially when you think about how new this team is. This is a wonderful start.”

Hillsboro’s record moves to 3-3. Hiebert said the thing his team needs to improve is its passing.

“We had three or four passes tonight that were five feet away from anybody  on our team,” he said. “Either we need to grow a lot more, or jump a lot higher. When you have four or five of those—it’s like, what just happened? Our passing has to get better.”

Coming—Hillsboro will resume play by hosting Nickerson Tuesday, Jan. 3. Marion will host Ell-Saline Friday, Jan. 6.

Don Ratzlaff contributed to this story.

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