33 of 43 from foul line boosts Hornets
By Chuck Livingston Sports Editor
BEEBE — Marion was able to put together one of its better games of the young season, but wasn’t able to close it out here last night. Facing last season’s Class 5A state runners-up from Maumelle, Marion led 45-41 after three quarters, and was clinging to a 55-54 lead with 1:03 remaining, but dropped a 65-58 decision to the Hornets. The game was the final of the Beebe Badger Christmas Tournament Classic. 7 turnovers in the fourth quarter, and a 4 of 15 shooting performance from the field in that same time, allowed Maumelle to come all the way back to clinch the win. “If you make turnovers late in the ballgame like that, that’s what you’ll get,” said veteran Marion head coach Irving Clay. “Maumelle played with a lot of confidence, and we did not. Not early on, for sure. Not until the second half. When you turn it over like we did and don’t make free throws and don’t rebound, this is what happens.” Marion trailed by as many as 11 points in the first half, but had cut that deficit to a 30-24 mark at halftime, and did their best to keep Maumelle and guard Shawn Williams, an East Carolina University commit, under wraps for most of the second half. “I’m encouraged at our stick-to-itness, so to speak,” Clay said of his team’s rally. “We stuck with it and didn’t give up.” The Patriots (5-6 overall) continued their defensive evolution as the season has progressed by keeping the Hornets from making a field goal in the first quarter (0 for 9 from the field in that frame) and Maumelle didn’t see a shot go into the basket until there was 6:44 left in the first half. That gave Maumelle a 16-11 lead, as part of an 8-0 run that bridged the first and second quarters. Just because their shots from the floor weren’t falling didn’t mean that Maumelle wasn’t scoring, however. The Hornets canned all of their 10 free throw attempts in the first quarter and 9 of 12 in the second frame to claim that 30-24 lead at the break. Maumelle shot 33 of 43 from the free throw line for the game while Marion hit 10 of 14. The fouls also cost the Pats senior forwards Marlon Warren and Mike Davis. Warren would foul out in the third quarter with 13 points and 6 rebounds. Those marks were good for second on the team against Maumelle behind Shaun Doss’s 16 points and 10 rebounds. That third quarter saw Marion limit Maumelle to 6 points, and an 0 for 10 shooting start, until the Hornets hit their first field goal with 24.2 seconds in that stretch, which allowed the Pats to lead 45-41 after three. “That third quarter, we were more aggressive, we played great defense. Got some turnovers, we got into transition and got some easy buckets,” Clay said. In the absence of Warren, and perhaps the presence of Williams, Maumelle came roaring back in the fourth and final quarter. The Hornets shot a blistering 67% in that frame and 8 of 12 from the line, but could never take the lead until Williams made one of the biggest plays of the night. The skinny guard jumped a passing lane with Marion ahead 55-54 and scored on an uncontested layup for the Hornet’s first lead since early in the third quarter. From there, the Hornets forced two more Marion turnovers and converted them into points to clinch the win, and the tournament title. Williams would lead all scorers with 28 points, 15 in the first half, while Maumelle also got 17 from Demarion Johnson. In addition to big nights from Doss and Warren, Marion also got 10 from A.J. Latham and 6 from Daylon Witt. Marion is off until Friday, January 8 when they open conference play at Lehr Arena against the West Memphis Blue Devils. Tip-off of the girls varsity game is scheduled for approximately 6 p.m.