Despite an impressive comeback by the Marion boys in Tuesday?s first-round sub-state at Sterling, the Warriors fell short, 58-52.
The loss ends their season with an 8-13 record.
?We had a culminating effort of the last two games,? coach Jeff?McMillin said. ?We were in the game until the very end against a very good team.?
Marion faltered early against a tall, physical Sterling team, allowing several second-chance points and struggling to rebound.
Sterling posted its largest lead of the game, 27-15, with four minutes left in the quarter.
The Black Bears led the Warriors at the first break, 21-10. It looked like the game could turn into a blowout.
But a Marion team that has fought hard all season wasn?t done yet.
The Warriors began to find their footing in the second quarter, outscoring the Black Bears 11-8. This was thanks in large part to three-point baskets from Jordan Versch and Mikael Antoszyk at the beginning of the quarter and with 24 seconds left before the half.
The Warriors trailed Sterling, 29-21, at halftime.
Building off the momentum from the second quarter, Marion hit the ground running in the third quarter.
Fueled by three-point baskets, the Warriors patiently narrowed the lead.
With 20 seconds left, Jacob Harper scored to put the Warriors within one, 38-37.
Marion almost doubled Sterling?s points in the third quarter, 16-9.
Play heated up even more entering the fourth quarter. Dillon Richmond scored with 7:19 left to tie the game at 40. Sterling pulled ahead, but Jordan Hett tied it again at 42 in front of a hushed Sterling crowd.
Two minutes later, Antoszyk hit another three-pointer to give the Warriors the lead, 47-45, with five minutes left to play.
But the Black Bears rallied with a 6-2 run to lead, 51-49. A three-pointer with a minute left gave them a four-point lead, 54-50.
Richmond?s free throws kept the Warriors within a basket of tying the game as the clock wound down, but fouls in the last few seconds of the game enabled Sterling to escape with the hard-fought win.
Marion scored 12 points from three-point range compared to Sterling?s six. The Warriors also had success at the line, making 13 of 20 free throws, and shot 44 percent from the floor.
However, the Black Bears out-rebounded the Warriors, 34-20, and outscored Marion by five in the fourth quarter.
Harper led MHS with 16 points, followed by Richmond with 10.
Hett and Versch each contributed nine points, despite Versch getting only 15 minutes of playing time due to foul trouble. He fouled out with 1:26 left in the game.
Guy Oden led Sterling with 13 points and Trea Lott added 10.
?I think we came together pretty well,? McMillin said. ?We went out pretty well, pretty competitively.
?It?s hard to lose, but I?think we took steps forward this year to be where we need to be.?