MHS girls end season in semis

The Marion girls’ basketball season came to a close Thursday with a 47-41 semifinal loss to Inman in the Class 2A substate hosted by Hillsboro.

“We were battling, battling, battling, against a team that was making their outside shots tonight, and they were bigger than us inside,” coach Kelly Robson said. “We were fighting the fight, and that’s all I told them (in the locker room) about the game was how proud I was of the way they fought.”

The Warriors had defeated the Teutons by a 40-37 margin Feb. 13, but things were different the second time around.

In the teams’ first meeting, Marion took the upper hand with a hot start offensively, but this time it was the Teutons who came out shooting well.

“Going into this game, just like the one at home, I was very concerned about how well we would handle their big inside players,” Robson said. “They’ve got some players that are taller than us.

“I was concerned about us trying to go man-to-man and getting in foul trouble there, and I thought we were better off taking our chances with the outside shooters, quite honestly, and that’s what we did at home. We made our outside shots early at home, but tonight, they were making theirs.”

All four of Inman’s made field goals in the first quarter were 3-pointers. Those baskets, plus a free-throw, left Marion trailing, 13-6, at the end of the first period. On the other end of the floor, the Warriors were 2-for-13 from the field.

The Teutons hit their fifth three with 6:40 left in the half. But Sam Richmond answered with a trey of her own to ignite a 10-3 Warrior rally that closed the gap to 21-16 at halftime.

Marion continued to gain momentum, limiting Inman to six points in the third quarter while scoring 13 as five Warriors scored points in the period.

After Richmond drained her second 3-pointer of the night, Kourtney Hansen scored to tie the game at 23. By the end of the period, Marion had taken a 29-27 lead.

Inman scored 20 points to Marion’s 12 in the fourth quarter, with the Teutons making 13 of 19 free throws attempted in the period.

Marion trailed 37-36 with 2:31 to play, when Inman made a sixth 3-pointer and followed with two free throws to gain distance, 42-36. Richmond made her third three-pointer to trim the deficit to three, but Inman made four free-throws before Marion scored again on a basket by Corrina Crabb with 12 seconds left. One more Inman free-throw brought it to the final, six-point spread.

Hansen and Richmond shared top scoring honors for Marion with 11 points each.

Marion concludes its season with an overall record of 17-5.

“We really thought with this substate, we knew we could beat the teams that are in here, and it didn’t go our way tonight,” Robson said. “That’s kind of rough, but what an outstanding season by a good group of kids.”

Marion will graduate six seniors: Hansen, Richmond, Courtney Herzet, Jessi Lewman, Alli Molleker and Corin Parmley.

“(Corin) worked super hard to become a better ball-handler, to not turn it over in tight spots as much, and I was very, very proud of the way that she just kept working at that,” Robson said.

“(Courtney) got better at going fast to the basket, both in a fast break with a partner and just by herself driving hard to the basket. Sometimes she would slam it off the glass and it wouldn’t even touch the rim, but later in the season, she was making those shots.

“Sam Richmond was our best 3-point threat this year. Early in the season, we weren’t scoring very many points. She wasn’t making her shots, but as the season went on, she was our money from out there.

“(Alli is) an excellent player. Second leading scorer for the season, I believe, is the way it’s going to turn out. Second leading rebounder also. Just contributed so much to our team.

“Jessi Lewman (is) another kid that always has a smile on her face. I love Jessi’s effort and all that she’s given to our team here.

“I don’t even know where to begin with Kourt­ney. What an awesome player. She’s going to be our leading scorer, leading rebounder. She’s leading the league in assists and probably steals—the best girls’ player I have coached.”