Marion falls to Hesston at sub-state

Zachary Stuchlik draws a foul on Hesston?s Jonathan Weber during the second quarter of Tuesday?s 62-17 sub-state quarterfinal loss. Marion ended the season with a 4-17 overall record. Janae Rempel / Free Press
Zachary Stuchlik draws a foul on Hesston?s Jonathan Weber during the second quarter of Tuesday?s 62-17 sub-state quarterfinal loss. Marion ended the season with a 4-17 overall record. Janae Rempel / Free Press

The defending state champion Hesston boys showed why they are one of the top-ranked teams in Class 3A, overwhelming visiting Marion in a sub-state quarterfinal matchup Tuesday, 62-17.

A well-oiled machine on both sides of the ball, top-seeded Hesston gave No. 8 Marion few open looks at the basket, and the Warriors struggled to hit much of anything all night.

?We had a lid on the basket that was unlike any I?ve ever seen our team have,? coach Jeff McMillin said. ?Against a good team, it compounds the fact when you can?t get layups to go or shots to fall. They didn?t give us many open shots. We had to take advantage of the ones we had.?

Marion matched the Swathers blow for blow in the game?s first four minutes. Hesston?s Tyler McCartney scored first, but Nicholas Stuchlik made a tying basket. Then Grant Raleigh scored the first two of his game-high 15 points, but Mason Pedersen responded with a jumper that tied it at 4. Levi Caffrey put up two points, then Peyton Heidebrecht tied the game at 6 at the 4:07 mark.

But from there, Raleigh hit a three-pointer, and Hesston ended the first quarter on an 8-0 run to lead, 14-6.

The mighty Swathers kicked it into high gear in the second quarter, scoring 19 consecutive points before Zachary Stuchlik drew a foul and made one of two free throws at the 1:29 mark. That was Marion?s only point of the quarter, and the Swathers ended the half with three more baskets?the final two off of turnovers?to lead, 39-7, at intermission.

Nicholas Stuchlik scored first after halftime, and Pedersen drained a three 23 seconds later, but from there, Hesston added 15 points before Jacob Baldwin scored to bring it to 56-14 by the end of the third quarter.

With a running clock to start the fourth quarter, Hesston built its lead to 62-14 before Heidebrecht made a pair of free throws with around 2:42 to play. Dylan Pippin scored the game?s final point from the charity stripe, bringing it to the final 45-point spread.

?We told the kids, ?You?ve got to keep being aggressive and keep looking to attack the gaps,? and it just didn?t work out for us,? McMillin said. ?We were overmatched tonight. The main thing we really wanted to do was just say, ?Heck with it? and go give them all we had. I think we did. It doesn?t look like, probably, on the scoreboard that we were real competitive, but I thought we came and we fought pretty hard.?

Ten Swathers got their name in the scoring column, led by Raleigh with 15 points and McCartney with 14.

Pedersen led Marion with five points.

Hesston went on to win the sub-state tournament, again punching its ticket to state.

Reflecting on the Warriors? 4-17 season, in which young players were thrust onto the varsity stage, McMillin spoke to the team?s growth this season.

?We?ve grown tremendously,? he said. ?We?ve gotten to where we were able to get adaptations and we were able to adjust in mid-game, and we cut our turnovers way down. It was kind of a rollercoaster ride as far as our improvement, but overall, if you looked at the beginning to the end result, I think that we did show improvement.?

Marion will graduate two seniors?Bret Voth and Jacob Baldwin. McMillin praised the leadership he?s seen this year.

?We had a down year, and if we had poor leadership this year, then we?d be in trouble; we?d be trying to rebuild our culture that we?d established in the last several years,? he said. ?But since we had great leadership that carried that culture over, the lack of wins didn?t do much, I don?t think, to disrupt the culture that we?ve established. Hopefully we?ll be able to get back on track fairly soon and fairly easily.?