Having suffered a loss earlier in the week, the Marion boys? basketball team battled Inman to the wire Friday. The game could have easily swung in favor of either team, but when the final buzzer sounded, Inman held a 43-42 edge.
Coach Jeff McMillin said the game played out very similar to what he expected.
?Both teams play real physical, and both teams rebound physically and both teams struggle to score,? he said. ?We had two very similar teams just crashing heads, and that?s kind of what we expected. They probably expected the same thing, and they probably wouldn?t have been surprised if we came out with a one-point win.
?But really, for a young team, (we) fought pretty hard and I think that we?re really growing and really improving, and I was happy with how (we) competed.?
Marion struggled to get shots to fall at the start, allowing Inman to build a 6-0 lead. Jacob Baldwin made a free throw at 1:36, and Peyton Heidebrecht drained a three with 21 seconds left to close the gap to 6-4 by the first break.
The Warriors outscored Inman 17-14 in the second quarter. Mason Pedersen scored eight points in the effort, and Bret Voth added six. The Warriors led, 21-20, at halftime.
The teams traded blow for blow in the third quarter. There were four ties in the period, and the teams entered the fourth quarter locked at 31.
With eight minutes to decide the victor, Inman claimed a four-point, 36-32, lead less than one minute in. Baldwin responded with a three-point play for Marion, and the teams traded scores.
Pedersen hit a pair of free throws to bring Marion within 41-39 at 2:26. After an Inman miss, Marion called timeout. Marion?s first shot missed, but the Warriors rebounded only to turn the ball over.
The Teutons missed a one-and-one with 34 seconds left, but Marion?s next shot also missed. The Warriors sent Keaton Case to the line with 17.1 seconds left, where he made two free throws to extend Inman?s lead to 43-39.
Marion called timeout with 10.5 seconds remaining, then Pedersen drained a three to bring Marion within 43-42 with just 7.5 to go. Case missed the front end of a one-and-one, and Marion called timeout with just 2.4 left. The Warriors threw a deep inbounds pass to Pedersen, who launched one final shot at the buzzer, but the attempt missed its mark.
McMillin said Marion?s final two possessions went as he had drawn up.
?We spend so much time in practice on other things, we really don?t work on end of game situations, but back-to-back within 10 seconds, they executed something that I drew up,? he said. ?It looked exactly like what we had on the board.?
Pedersen led with 15 points. Voth added 12.
?My message to them was, ?I used to be all about, ?I?m demanding that you guys win,? and as I?ve gotten a little older, I demand that they play to win now, and they played to win,? McMillin said. ?If that?s really what I?m going to believe in, and if I want to back up my own words, then I can?t be upset with anything they did tonight. Because they did, they played to win.?
Berean?Pitted against a talented Berean Academy squad for the second time this season, Marion trailed the duration of Tuesday?s 53-24 road loss.
?(Berean?s) a good team, and they play very, very intense basketball,? coach Jeff McMillin said. ?Our guys knew what we needed to do and put good focus toward it early, and then one small thing here, a small thing there. We kind of crumpled a little bit under their pressure.?
With Berean in front, 4-0, Jacob Baldwin scored Marion?s first points with 3:54 left in the opening quarter. Marion did not score again until 37 seconds remained in the quarter when Mason Pedersen made a basket, bringing the score to 10-4 as the quarter ended.
Baldwin made a free throw to start the second quarter, but with Marion plagued by turnovers, Berean rattled off 10 points before Baldwin scored at 3:52 to make it 20-7. Bret Voth and Dylan Pippin each chipped in a basket, and the half ended with Berean in front, 28-11.
Neither team scored for nearly three minutes after halftime. Pedersen and Nicholas Stuchlik scored back-to-back baskets midway through the period, and Baldwin scored a minute later for a 33-17 margin. Berean closed the third quarter with a 6-0 burst to take a 39-17 lead into the final break.
Berean built its largest lead as the game ended. Pedersen and Baldwin scored all of Marion?s fourth-quarter scoring.
?They made it difficult for us to attack,? McMillin said. ?They really made it hard for us to get the ball in to the post. We did a little better in the second half getting the ball in there, but it?s just a very active team. ?
Pedersen and Baldwin led the scoring effort with nine points each.
Coming?As the No. 6 seed in Centre?s Cougar Classic, Marion (1-3, 2-7) was scheduled to open competition against No. 3 Solomon Tuesday. The eight-team field also includes No. 1 Sacred Heart, No. 2 Wake?field, No. 4 Rural Vista, No. 5 Peabody-Burns, No. 7 Elyria Christian and No. 8 Centre.
Marion?s next games of the Classic will be Friday and Saturday. Visit hillsborofreepress.com for an updated schedule as it becomes available.