Warriors earn second straight championship at Centre



Celebration was in order for the Marion boys? basketball team Saturday night as it claimed the Cougar Classic title at Centre with a win over Hope.

Marion got the ball rolling with a solid first-round win over Solomon Jan. 17, then took down White City by 21 points in the second round Friday.

The Warriors are now 4-6 for the season.

Marion 56, Hope 44

Marion overcame a rough third quarter to claim the Cougar Classic title Saturday against Hope.

?We put ourselves into a position where there was some adversity, but we were able to fight through it,? coach Jeff McMillin said. ?I liked our character, being able to fight through it, getting rebounds and making free throws when we needed to.?

Marion led by a point after one quarter, 9-8. With the game tied at 12, Jordan Hett scored at 2:55 to spark a nine-point scoring spurt, including a three-pointer from Zac Robson, which gave Marion a 23-14 halftime lead.

Hope came out from the locker room aggressively, scoring five unanswered points.

?The post defense waned a little bit in the third quarter, but we were able to fight back and get to where we were at the beginning of the game,? McMillin said.

Scott Jones finally scored on a spin move at 4:38 to make it 25-19. But Hope rallied with two three-point in the last two minutes to pull within 32-30 at the end of the third period.

In the final quarter, Harper drained three baskets from beyond the arc on his way to 16 points in the period. His teammates caught the spark as the Warriors outscored the Lions, 24-14, in the quarter.

?He helped secure the win,? McMillin said of Harper. ?He got rebounds on this end and got fouled and walked down to the other end and made free throws.That?s what you have to do to secure a win at the end.?

Harper finished with 24 points and was helped by 12 from Hett and eight from Jones. Har?per also pulled down 14 rebounds.

Both Harper and Hett were given all-tournament honors for their performances.

Marion 61, White City 40

Marion boys took care of business in a big way in their semifinals game Friday against White City.

?It was just a complete team win,? coach Jeff McMillin sad. ?Everybody stepped up and contributed. Everybody did their jobs and the result was pretty good for us.?

The Warriors rediscovered their spark from three-point range, going 8-for-14 (57 percent). Marion got off to a quick start, cruising to a 32-13 lead by halftime on the strength of the Warriors? long-range shooting and rebounding.

Marion continued to expand the lead in the third quarter, before slowing down the game in the fourth quarter with several possessions designed to run time off the clock.

Ultimately, the key was great three-point shooting and depth, combined with an excellent performance from Jordan Hett, who scored 24 points on 10-for-17 shooting while limiting White City?s top scorer to six points.

?They have a kid who is a pretty good catalyst for them, and we decided we wanted to slow him down,? McMillin said. ?Jordan Hett just had a tremendous game guarding him. He had a good game all-around.?

Jacob Harper and Taylor Heidebrecht contributed 15 and 10 points, respectively, 12 of which came from three-point range.

?We?ve got good shooters,? McMillin said. ?For whatever reason the last three games they weren?t hitting them. But (Friday) we hit some threes pretty well again. I think we?re feeling some confidence from long-range now.?

Marion 44, Solomon 35

Marion opened the Cougar Classic with a 44-35 victory over Solomon Jan. 17.

The Warriors came out strong, taking a 6-0 lad in the first 4:30 thanks to baskets by Jacob Harper, Jordan Hett and Mikael Antoszyk.

Solomon finally put points on the board at 3:30 on a dunk by the Gorillas? Josh Burdine.

After Zac Robson scored on a putback for Marion, Solomon scored six unanswered points to tie the game at the end of the first quarter. Hett reasserted the Warriors? dominance with a driving layup to start the second period.

Jones followed with a basket off a rebound, Harper and Jones scored to give Marion a 16-8 lead at 5:21.

Taylor Heidebrecht scored off an Antoszyk assist and Hett and Harper combined for four more points in the last 3:18 of the half, helping the Warriors to a 22-12 lead at the break.

Solomon started the second half with a six-point scoring spurt, but Hett scored a layup to swing momentum back the Warriors? way. When Jones scored at 3:13, Marion led 26-20.

By the end of three quarters, Marion had expanded the lead to 33-23. The Warriors won in the fourth quarter at the free-throw line, making eight of their 10 points from free throws.

Solomon outscored Marion by two points in the fourth quarter, but the Warriors held on for the victory. Hett and Harper led Marion with 13 points each.

Coming?The Warriors are scheduled to host Council Grove Thursday, with tip-off at 8 p.m.

See hillsborofreepress.com for same-night coverage.

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