No Doss, no problem for Marion
By Chuck Livingston Sports Editor
Through the season’s first six games, inconsistency has been Marion’s calling card. The Pats have alternated wins and losses during that stretch and have gone from playing excellent ball to the other end of the spectrum, often in the same game. That was the case against last Saturday afternoon as Marion topped Blytheville on the second day of the West Memphis Blue Devil Classic, evening their record at 3-3 after taking a 64-61 victory ahead of a big-time non-conference game against Little Rock Parkview on Tuesday night at Patriot Arena. Perhaps even more significant for Marion was how they responded to a 67-55 loss the previous night to defending Class 6A state champion Pine Bluff. The Pats trailed by as many as 22 points against the Zebras before a late run kept the winning margin down. “When you have a tough game like we did against Pine Bluff, you appreciate the effort that the kids put out, and we did put out a good effort tonight (against Blytheville),” explained Marion head coach Irving Clay. “Rebounding is important and free throws are important. We did those things when we had to, now we just want to get consistent in those areas every night.” The Blytheville win was also significant as Marion played without starting forward, junior Shaun Doss. Doss played the previous night against Pine Bluff, but was a scratch against the Chickasaws with an illness. In his absence, there was a group of Patriots ready to pick up his slack as Clay rolled with a smallball starting lineup that featured Marlon Warren at the power forward. Warren responded with perhaps his best game in a Marion uniform as the Hughes native posted 17 points and 9 rebounds, and 5 of those came on the offensive glass, which led to stickbacks. That helped Marion erase an early 10-point, first-quarter deficit and claim a 41-35 lead by the halftime buzzer. “That’s the other part of the game when you’re not making shots from the outside,” said Clay. “If that’s not falling, you want the high-percentage stuff on the inside. We did a good job of distributing job to our inside players, and if we missed then I thought we had really good position on the inside.” Marion won the rebounding battle 39-29 for the game. When Warren wasn’t on the boards, it was senior A.J. Latham filling out the stat sheet. Latham finished 4 of 6 from three-point range, as well as a flawless 6 of 6 from the foul line to account for all of his team-high 18 points. The versatile senior also accounted for 8 rebounds, 3 assists and a pair of steals. The third period saw Blytheville shoot just 4 of 15 from the field, yet the Chicks were able to cut in the Patriot advantage, trimming the lead to just two points at 49-47 entering the fourth quarter. Marion responded to that with an early 6-0 run, but the scrappy Blytheville outfit wasn’t going to go away as the Chicks cut the lead down to a single point with under 30 seconds left. Going further, Blytheville’s Isaac Kelly stole an errant Marion pass near midcourt at Lehr Arena and appeared to have a clear path to the Blytheville basket, but Marion’s Mike Davis took a good angle and met Kelly in the paint, where Davis came up with a block that led to a Latham rebound. Latham would take a foul and sink both of his charities to clinch the 64-61 final. Treyvon Jackson would pace the Pats with 5 assists, while Marion would turn the ball over 15 times to Blytheville’s 11. Marion will host Little Rock Parkview in a girls and boys doubleheader on Tuesday night. The girls junior varsity game will tip at 5 p.m.