The Marion girls’ basketball team earned two Heart of America wins last week to improve to 3-0 in league play, 7-2 overall.
Bennington—Marion defeated the Bulldogs Friday, 35-25, limiting its opponent to less than 30 points for the third game in a row.
“I’ve been really pleased with our defensive effort,” coach Kelly Robson said. “Alli (Molleker) and Jessi (Lewman) have come so far as post defenders. They aren’t as tall as many of the players they are guarding, but they are really committed to being good defenders.
“We thought if we could keep Bennington out of the lane and force them to try to score from outside, we should be able to hold their scoring down.
“Courtney Herzet again had a quick player to guard and did a great job limiting her. Kourtney Hansen did her usual good job of getting steals and break away opportunities.
“Sam (Richmond), Corin (Parmley), and Corrina (Crabb) also worked really hard at containing their guards. Defense takes a real commitment, and, for the last three games, we’ve had a total team effort on the defensive end.”
The Warriors claimed a narrow, 8-7 lead through one quarter of play. Molleker led all scorers in the period with four points.
In the second quarter, Hansen scored eight points en route to her game-high 15 for the night. At halftime, Marion led, 18-12.
Richmond drained a three, and Lewman made a pair of two-pointers. Crabb also made a basket, giving Marion a 27-19 advantage at the final break.
Hansen scored four of Marion’s eight fourth-quarter points, and Marion extended its lead to double digits at the final buzzer.
Remington—Having lost to the Broncos earlier in the season, Marion emerged victorious in Tuesday’s league, 42-29.
Coach Kelly Robson noted a hole in Remington’s lineup as one reason Marion found more success the second time around.
“Sage Westerfield didn’t play,” Robson said of Remington’s high scorer who scored 19 points in the teams’ previous meeting. “She had an apparently major knee injury in their game on Friday.
“Having said that, I’m really proud of our girls’ effort. We had good defensive intensity all night long. Alli (Molleker) and Jessi (Lewman) really battled inside. Courtney Herzet was the primary defender on their super-quick guard and kept her under control pretty well. We continued our good rebounding efforts from last week.”
Aided by a three-pointer and a pair of two-point baskets from Kourtney Hansen, Marion enjoyed a 10-6 lead after one quarter of play. Marion extended that margin to 19-11 at halftime, as Hansen led all scorers with 11 points at the break.
Scoring increased for both teams in the fourth quarter, with Marion holding a 14-10 advantage. Molleker added five points to the effort.
The teams battled fairly evenly through the final quarter, with Marion’s quarter scoring led by Sam Richmond, who made three of four free-throws she attempted.
Hansen led all scorers with 17 points. Molleker scored 13.
Ell-Saline—Marion opened Heart of America play Jan. 5 by defeating Ell-Saline, 49-24, in their first game of 2018.
The two teams attempted a combined 65 free-throws in the contest.
“The game took a really long time,” coach Kelly Robson said. “The only real rhythm came early in the second half, but for most of the game, there wasn’t any flow to it.
“Sometimes after Christmas break, conditioning can be an issue, but we had plenty of breaks on the court with so many free throws being shot.”
By the end of the first quarter, the Warriors had built a 12-4 advantage, scoring half of their points at the free-throw line. Kourtney Hansen, Corrina Crabb and Jessi Lewman each scored four points in the period.
By halftime, Marion’s lead had swelled to 28-8. Six Warriors contributed points in the quarter, led by Hansen with five points.
Marion outscored the Cardinals, 14-10, in the third quarter for a 42-18 margin heading into the final period. Courtney Herzet was 4-for-4 from the charity stripe, and Parmley also scored four points during the quarter
A 7-6 Warrior effort in the fourth quarter led to the final 25-point spread.
“The main thing I was happier with was that we took care of the ball a little better,” Robson said. “Turnovers have been an issue for this team all season. We still had some unforced errors, but we did a better job of valuing each possession.”
Hansen scored a team-high 14 points, and 10 Warriors made it into the scoring column. Crabb scored eight points and Lewman added seven.
Marion made 23 of 44 free-throws attempted (52 percent), while Ell-Saline, made 11 of 21 (52 percent). The Cardinals made just five baskets in the game, including two two-pointers and three three-pointers.
The win gives Marion a 1-0 record in Heart of America play, 5-2 overall.
“It’s nice to start the league schedule with a win,” Robson said. “I’m hopeful we can take this positive feeling into this week.”
Coming—Marion will participate in the Cougar Classic at Centre this week. The start was postponed from Tuesday to Thursday because of weather.
The second-seeded Warriors will play No. 7 Wakefield (1-7) Thursday at 4 p.m. With a win, Marion would face the winner of No. 3 Centre (5-3) and No. 6 Solomon (1-7) in the semifinals Friday.
The other half of the bracket features No. 1 Rural Vista (7-1) versus No. 8 Peabody-Burns (0-9) and No. 4 Herington (4-4) versus No. 5 Elyria Christian (4-4).
The finals are scheduled for Saturday. Records listed were accurate at the time of seeding.