Warrior boys lose comeback attempt

Staff writer

It was a great comeback that the Marion Warriors could not quite finish in a 71-65 loss to Sacred Heart.

The Marion boys’ basketball team was down 42-32 to start the third quarter on Friday in Hillsboro.

Sacred Heart built its lead by playing aggressive yet disciplined defense, denying drives through the lane to limit Jacob Harper and Jordan Hett in the first two quarters. Cory Donley guarded Hett and Dalton Dooley checked Harper. A 15-12 Sacred Heart lead after one quarter expanded to eight after two periods due in part to a 7-0 run at the beginning of the second period

“They’re a good team,” Hett said of Sacred Heart. “They came out fired up and we didn’t respond well.”

The Knights were also frugal with the ball. Through three quarters, they had only committed four turnovers. The Warriors thrived this season by creating turnovers and fast breaks, and that’s how they mounted a comeback in the fourth quarter.

“Guys I can’t switch anything,” head coach Jeff McMillin told his team in a timeout. “You guys have to turn it on.”

The Warriors forced five turnovers in the fourth quarter. Steals by Ethan Hett, Jacob Harper, and Taylor Heidebrecht recorded steals in the Warriors’ full-court, man-to-man press. Two traps by Jordan Hett and Taylor Heidebrecht just past the midcourt line led to traveling calls.

“We did the things that made us successful,” McMillin said.

The Warriors also started to knock down shots. Harper opened the fourth quarter with a corner 3-pointer. Ethan Hett drained a trey himself with the help from a Harper assist. Harper and Jordan Hett connected on contested layups.

Harper knocked down two free throws to put the game within two possessions, 51-47. Sacred Heart forward Austin Palen responded with a layup. On the next Marion possession, Harper drove, bounced off the contact a Sacred Heart defender, and still hit a layup.

The Warriors took advantage of two missed free throws from Palen with 1 minute, 46 seconds remaining in regulation. Zach Robson drained a corner 3-pointer on assist from Wiley Lundy. Lundy held the ball for about a second to draw defenders on the left side of Sacred Heart’s 2-3 zone before skipping the pass to Robson. Marion was down only one, 54-53.

Two possessions later Sacred Heart guard Brooks Brown hit two free throws to put the Knights up three with 9.2 second left in the game. After a Marion timeout, Jordan Hett inbounded the ball to Lundy near the half court line. Hett streaked up the court, used Lundy as a screen, and took the ball through the middle of the floor. Hett made it to the top of the key, but had to step back to get behind the 3-point line. With two defenders close by, Hett drained a jump shot as time expired.

“We executed exactly how we wanted it,” McMillin said.

The Warriors seemed to have the momentum heading into overtime, but they could not capitalize.

Sacred Heart jumped out to a four-point lead in the period with free throws from Tony Chavez and a layup by Brown. Four more free throws from Donley and Palen put Sacred Heart up 66-60 with 41.5 seconds remaining when the Warriors failed to convert on a possession with offensive rebounds from Jordan Hett and Lundy.

Dooley hit two more free throws to put Sacred Heart up eight. A Jordan Hett three at the buzzer reduced the final margin to 71-65.

“We were going good,” Jordan Hett said. “We just didn’t do enough.”

Jordan Hett did plenty to keep the Warriors in the game. He scored 27 points on 12-for-24 shooting. He was also the team’s leading rebounder with nine boards.

The Warriors would have been in worse shape without Jordan Hett’s scoring in the third quarter. He hit four tough shots in the third quarter — a 16-foot pull-up jumper and a fading jump shot in transition following rebounds, he knocked down a floater in the middle of the lane, and drilled a step back three with defenders diving around him.

Harper scored 20 points on 6-for-16 shooting.

The Warriors ended the season with a record of 16-6.

“This is the most heartbroken team I’ve ever had after a season-ending loss,” McMillen said.

Hutch Trinity

Seniors Ethan Hett, Austin Pedersen, and Heidebrecht all had accurate shooting nights against Trinity Catholic of Hutchinson in the Warriors 56-31 win on Thursday in Hillsboro.

Ethan Hett scored 11 points for Marion knocking down three-of-four 3-pointers in the first half. Pedersen scored six points on two 3-pointers. Heidebrecht also hit two threes for six points.

The Warriors had a more diverse scoring night than in previous games this season. Seven players recorded at least a point. Harper was the leading scorer for Marion with 13 points and Jordan Hett followed right behind with 11, but the Warriors top two scorers did not have the lion’s share of the scoring load.

The Warriors spread the love around with one of the team’s best passing games this season. The Warriors had 13 assists as a team on Thursday. Jordan Hett and Harper had four helpers each.

Midway through the first quarter, it was obvious that the Celtics were packing the paint to deny driving lanes for both Hett and Harper. Instead of bulling into the paint and forcing up shots in the face of multiple defenders, both players did not hesitate to kick the ball to shooters at the top of the key — the most regularly open area in Trinity’s defensive scheme — or to cutters along the baseline.

Ethan Hett said cutting, especially backside, was a point of emphasis in Marion practices leading up to the sub-state tournament.

On the other end of the court, forward James Jones kept Trinity center Jerome Miller in check. Jones only allowed Miller to score four points in the game and recorded three blocks in the process. On one attempt, Jones stuffed a hook shot with enough force to cause the ball to hit the floor. The loose ball started a fast break for an opportunistic Jordan Hett. In frustration, Miller quickly fouled Jones in transition.

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