Warriors open with loss at SES

Mason Pedersen drives downcourt during the second half at Southeast of Saline Friday. Pedersen scored five points in Marion?s 59-31 loss. Janae Rempel / Free Press
Mason Pedersen drives downcourt during the second half at Southeast of Saline Friday. Pedersen scored five points in Marion?s 59-31 loss. Janae Rempel / Free Press
With five new starters taking the court, the Marion boys? basketball team?s youth was apparent in a 59-31 loss to a tall and talented Southeast of Saline squad Friday.

?Before the game, I told them that ?I don?t care that we?re the smaller team; I don?t care that we?re the younger team, or the less experienced team. What I do care about is if we aren?t the hardest working team,?? coach Jeff McMillin said. ?For the first half, I think that we hung in as well as we could with good effort and good intensity. I think we were competitive.?

It took time for both offenses to get going, as neither team scored the first 2:38 of play. Nicholas Stuchlik scored the game?s first three points, and when Bret Voth made a basket, Marion held a 5-1 advantage.

But the Trojans took the lead less than a minute later with a three-pointer, the first of eight Trojan threes on the night. Aided by three more baskets behind the arc, SES enjoyed a 19-9 advantage at the end of the first period.

?We wanted to take away what they really wanted to do: get the ball inside,? McMillin said. ?They hit a lot of threes. They took what we were challenging them to do?shoot it outside rather than let them get inside?and they did fairly well.?

The Trojans hit two more threes in the second quarter, but Marion drew within 25-19 after Dylan Pippin made a second-chance basket and Stuchlik followed with two free throws. The first half ended with the Trojans leading, 29-21.

Plagued by turnovers?Marion had 24 in the game against a stifling Trojan full-court press, the Warriors scored just 10 points after that. McMillin said the Warriors? youth was reflected in their inability to make adjustments during the game.

?We tried several things to break the press, but we didn?t adjust,? he said. ?We didn?t adjust to do what we needed to do and get into the right spot, and process. We were having trouble doing that on the fly.?

Mason Pedersen and Jacob Baldwin scored back-to-back baskets in the third quarter, but SES widened the gap to 41-25 heading into the final quarter.

The Trojans capped a 7-0 run with their seventh three before Voth scored with 6:15 to go. From there, the Trojans fired off 11 unanswered points before Pedersen hit a three-pointer. Voth added a free throw for the final 28-point margin.

?As the game wore on, the athleticism and the size and the experience wore on us a little bit, and our focus waned a lot, but for our first game with a lot of young, new faces, it wasn?t completely lacking of what I was looking for,? McMillin said.

McMillin praised the Warriors for pulling down 26 rebounds, including 10 by Nicholas Stuchlik and nine by Bret Voth.

Marion shot 36.7 percent from the field (11-30). Voth led with 13 points and was one rebound away from a double-double.

Three Trojans scored in double figures, including a game-high 22 points by Easton Montgomery.

Coming?Marion (0-1)?was scheduled to open the Marion Classic Tuesday against Peabody-Burns. The Warriors will play Berean Academy Friday at 5:30 p.m. The tournament will conclude Saturday with boys? action beginning at 1:30 p.m. and concluding with the championship at 7:30 p.m.