Junior Pats win 16th straight

Marion outlasts West in Battle of the Bigs

By Chuck Livingston Sports Editor

The schedule makers did no favors for the Marion Junior Patriots, but they’re making the most of it. Marion (10-0 overall, 2-0 district) won its 16th consecutive game dating back to last season by outlasting West (7-3 overall 1-1 district) 57-40 last night at Patriot Arena. In a game that was billed around town as the “Battle of the Bigs,” referring to West’s Chris Moore, and 8th grader, and Marion freshman Timothy Caesar, that duo did not disappoint. Caesar’s team won, and the lanky six-foot-seven post man posted a double-double of 13 points and 15 rebounds as well as 4 blocks. Included in Caesar’s totals were three dunks, two off of offensive rebounds, that sent the home crowd into a frenzy. Moore, employed mostly around the perimeter, was also impressive, going for 11 points and 11 boards, as well as 2 assists. While that dynamic duo had a pair of big games, Marion freshman guard Keyshawn Woods may have been the difference. Woods, by his own admission, didn’t play his best game in Marion’s win at Wonder last week, but he responded with a game-high 19 points, including a buzzer-beating three-point basket that allowed Marion to take a 29-21 with it to halftime. The shot capped a half-ending 7-2 run. “That’s always a huge lift for our morale, when you get a score like that. Shots like that happen, both for us and against us, and we were happy to get the benefit of one tonight,” said Marion head coach Johnny Washington. Marion won the rebounding battle 28-24, as well as the turnover title 19-12. “Turnovers killed us all night, for two reasons,” explained West head coach Jimmy Hawkins. “The first is that it’s an opportunity that we lose to score. The biggest thing is that Marion is quick, and we knew they’d be quick, but they also outhustled us. They got after us on the boards and on the floor, and that’s something that we have to work on.” While Marion was able to pull away in the second half, it was West that came out like gangbusters, connecting on 5 of their first 12 shots to lead 13-10 after the first quarter. The game hung in the balance until late in the second half when Marion went on that 7-2 spurt, capped off by Woods’ triple. That lead grew to 10 points after three quarters at 43-33 before Marion and its depth was able to wear down West in the final frame. “They (West) have an awesome team. They have some really great players, kids that play across the country and that’s what we want to do is to make them do some things that they aren’t used to doing,” explained Marion head coach Johnny Washington. “We wanted to play kids earlier in the game tonight so that everyone would be able to play more minutes in the second half, because we knew it’d be a battle all night.”

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