Marion to play Tennessee Preparatory Academy tonight at 7:15
By Chuck Livingston Sports Editor
To beat Wynne last night, the Marion Patriots followed an age-old script for success. The hosts evened their record at 1-1 overall by turning the ball over 16 times, shooting 16 of 33 from the free throw line and getting outscored by five points in the fourth quarter, but was still able to post a 59-54 win. So maybe it wasn’t the most traditional path to victory, but sometimes a wild ride can be better than a smooth one. Just ask Irving Clay, in his 11th season as Marion’s head coach. “Oh, I’ll take an ugly win over a pretty loss anytime,” Clay said. “Turnovers killed us. I felt like we maybe felt like we could turn it on or off whenever we were ready. I didn’t like our second half at all, but I guess it is encouraging that we can not play our best and still get a win.” In a game that was basically even throughout, the only separation either way came in the second quarter. With the score tied at 18 after a frame, the Pats opened up a 35-27 lead at halftime thanks to six turnovers forced by the hosts and a balanced scoring effort that saw six different Marion players score, led by 5 points from junior Shaun Doss in that frame. Doss would lead all Patriots in scoring for the game with 18. Sophomore Kam Tines would pour in all 4 of his points on the night in that same stanza and Marlon Warren would post 3 of his 10 points before halftime as well. Warren would post his first double-double as a Patriot when he led Marion with 10 rebounds. Marion’s defense limited Wynne to just 9 points in the frame. “Tonight, I played 10 or 12 guys. You want to always win as a coach, but we do need to be ready for the conference,” explained Wynne head coach, and West Memphis native, Russell Jones. “Our football team had an outstanding season and we just got those guys back with just one day of practice and our chemistry was just a little off. It was kind of horrible, to be honest, but our effort was great, and that’s how we were able to stay close.” Marion’s lead swelled to 10 points after three quarters as the Pats led 46-36 after three quarters and when the hosts scored on their first possession of the fourth quarter to go ahead 12 points, it appeared as though it was curtains for the Yellowjackets. Instead, Marion turned the ball over 7 times in the final 8 minutes and shot an appalling 7 of 21 from the free throw line down the stretch to keep Wynne in it. The ‘Jackets very nearly came all the way back as they got within 52-49 with 1:11 remaining but Marion got a lay-up from Doss and Warren would hit a pair of free throws to make sure that Wynne would fall just short. “I felt like we were pressing too hard,” said Clay of his team’s defensive breakdowns in the fourth quarter. “We had some guys do some uncharacteristic things tonight. I don’t know if it’s the holidays or what.” Despite the loss, Jones was excited about his team’s effort. “This is a group of resilient guys. They’re real disciplined, but they’re also young,” said Jones. “To play a team like Marion and Coach Clay, who we know is good, and to be in the game with our timing being off a little bit, we’re looking forward to the conference season.” Marion senior Treyvon Jackson led the Pats in assists with 6 and steals with 3. Wynne got a team-high 12 points from Tyler Hutchinson, 9 from Justin Martin and 6 apiece from Terry Burgess III and Devontae Pounds. The Pats are back in action tonight when they play Tennessee Preparatory Academy at approximately 7:15 p.m. Wynne will play West Memphis at 4:45 p.m.