Riding the wave of their tournament championship last week, the Marion boys scored a 26-point victory over Council Grove Thursday. They overwhelmed Council Grove on the Warriors? home court, 62-36, to improve to 7-6 overall.
Marion started the game with a bang as Jacob Harper hit a three-pointers 30 seconds in then scored seconds later off an assist from Mikael Antoszyk to give the Warriors a quick 5-2 lead.
After Council Grove tied the game, Jordan Hett scored off a steal to put Marion on top, 11-10, at the end of the quarter.
With Antoszyk, Hett and Harper each adding four points, Marion outscored the Braves, 12-8, to take a 23-18 lead at halftime.
If Marion looked strong in the first half, the Warriors were super men coming out of the locker room. MHS scored five times from beyond the arc to fuel a 27-burst in the third quarter and outscore Council Grove by 11 points.
Hett hit three three-pointers while Harper and Antoszyk each swished one as Marion built a 20-point lead with 2:10 left in the quarter. Zac Robson and Wiley Lundy came off the bench to score five points to give Marion a 26-point lead, 50-24, when the quarter ended.
Hett sank another three at 4:01 before the Warriors? bench gat a chance to shine. Wiley Lundy scored inside before Grif Case sank a three-pointer with 45 seconds left to put an exclamation point on the win.
Harper finished with 26 points and Hett scored 17 to lead Marion.
?Most of our offense tonight was relying on transition, turning defense into offense,? coach Jeff McMillin said. adding that Council Grove made it difficult for Marion in the half court.
?At this point in the year, they?re going to know what you want to run. It?s just a matter of executing.?
But the element that allowed Marion to shine in the second half was a renewed emphasis on rebounding after a lackluster first half on the boards.
?They came out and did a really good job,? McMillin said. ?We were aggressively going and getting the ball on the glass. They stepped up to the challenge and rebounded like they should have been already.?
He said the key for Marion expanding the lead out was not giving Council Grove second looks at the basket, and getting the Warriors? transition going.
With Jones on the bench for much the game, the Warriors needed help from the bench more than ever.
?I was happy with the contributions we had off the bench,? McMillin said. ?They all did a good job and put the ball in the basket for us. Their contribution was felt on the glass as well.?
With four straight wins under the belt, the Warriors are working toward a strong finish to the season. McMillin said he plans to focus on maintaining the teams offensive balance.
?We have two guys who are really established scorers,? he said. ?There are other guys who can score. We need to keep that balance because those guys are chipping in every game and taking confident shots and looking to put the ball in the basket.?
Marion had 17 points off the bench in Thursday?s victory, with five Warriors scoring besides Harper and Hett.
Coming?The Warriors are scheduled to travel to Canton-Galva Jan. 31 before playing Berean Academy Friday. Tip-off is at 8 p.m. for both games. See hillsborofreepress.com for same-night coverage.