By Chuck Livingston Sports Editor
It took about two quarters, but once the Marion Junior Patriots got going, they proved to be tough to stop last night against Wonder. Playing in front of a crowd so large that the fire marshall was rumored to have to get involved to turn people away in “Lion Country,” the Wonder Junior High gym, Marion erased a 27-19 halftime deficit and tackled a 61-45 win to move to 9-0 overall and 1-0 in the district. Wonder is now 11-3 and 0-1. That large crowd represented a state tournament-style atmosphere that swayed with every basket. Those in attendance saw monster games from Marion’s talented pair of freshmen, Keyshawn Woods and Timothy Caesar. Woods hit for a team-high 19 points while Caesar netted 17 points, 21 rebounds and 8 blocks, leading all players in the latter two categories. Detrick Reeves Jr. also posted a double-double for Marion, going for 13 points, 10 rebounds, while also leading his team with 3 assists. “If we play together and play defense, we can be pretty successful,” said Marion head coach Johnny Washington. “We have a lot of talented players that can play basketball, but we have to play together.” Marion led 15-11 after the first quarter, but that’s when thing started to go Wonder’s way in a big way. The Golden Lions opened the second stanza on a 12-0 run to grasp a 23-15 lead, behind 6 points apiece from Kenneth Phillips and Marcus Whitaker and Wonder led 27-19 at halftime. Phillips led Wonder with 15 points and chipped in with 11 boards, while Whitaker had 11 points and a team-high 13 rebounds. Jamal Macklin checked in with 11 points also. Marion was down, but not out. The Junior Pats countered with an 12-0 run of their own to open the third quarter and reclaim the lead. That run allowed the Junior Pats to lead 40-36 after three quarters. “I felt like we came out a little complacent (in that third quarter),” explained Wonder head coach Kwame Brown. “I told our guys at halftime not to be complacent. Also, I felt like we settled for too many jump shots. I think we were 1 of 15 from three-point range, and that’s unlike us.” While Washington was bound to be happy with his team’s 21-point third quarter after a four-point showing in the second, he thought the game changed on the other end of the floor. “You can win games when you get stops,” Washington said simply. “A 12-0 run is nice, but the big thing is that you’re not letting the other team score, and that’s huge.” In the fourth quarter, Marion limited Wonder to a 3 of 15 showing from the field to clinch the victory. Marion lost last year’s game at Wonder in February. That game also represented the Junior Pats’ last loss in a 24-3 district tournament champion campaign. Since that loss, Marion has won 14 consecutive games. Marion will host West on Monday night at Patriot Arena. The varsity girls game will tip at approximately 5:45 p.m.