Marion opens HOA play with win over Ell-Saline

Blaine Mermis scores early in the second quarter to give Marion a 16-15 lead over Ell-Saline Friday. Mermis scored 11 points in Marion’s 56-54 victory.
Blaine Mermis scores early in the second quarter to give Marion a 16-15 lead over Ell-Saline Friday. Mermis scored 11 points in Marion’s 56-54 victory.
The Marion boys held on down the stretch to defeat Ell-Saline, 56-54, Friday for a 1-0 start in Heart of Amer­ica league play.

The Warriors battled the Cardinals evenly through the first quarter, which ended in a 14-14 tie. Mason Pedersen scored six of his team-high 12 points in the period.

The lead changed hands multiple times in the second quarter. A four-point swing courtesy of Blaine Mermis turned a deficit into a 24-22 Marion lead. The Warriors maintained the advantage at halftime, 25-24.

The teams traded baskets to start the third quarter, then Marion missed its next five attempts from the field. The scoring drought lasted 4:14, allowing the Cardinals to claim the lead, 32-29.

Mermis scored at the 2:52 mark, but Ell-Saline built a 39-33 lead. Evann Heide­brecht scored a traditional three-point play and Peder­sen scored off a steal to close the gap to 39-38 by the end of the period.

Marion regained the lead, 46-44, when Nathan Baldwin scored with 5:20 to play. When the Warriors struggled to secure defensive rebounds, the Cardinals took the lead with 1:25 to play, 54-53. Peyton Heide­brecht put Marion back in front with a basket, and Mermis later made one of two charity shots for the final margin. Ell-Saline missed a three-pointer giving Marion the win.

“We weren’t getting good shots within the flow of our offense, so I started calling some specials,” coach Randy Skiles said. “Fortun­ately, it worked out for us and we got back in the lead.”

Pedersen led the team with 12 points. Mermis added 11 and Zachary Stuchlik 10. Marion is 3-3 for the season.

Coming—Marion was scheduled to host Reming­ton Tuesday. The Warriors will travel to Bennington Friday.