Marion’s 18-game winning streak snapped
By Chuck Livingston Sports Editor
Nearly a year had passed since the Marion Junior Patriots had lost a game, and two since they last lost at Patriot Arena. Marion’s last defeat came in mid February of 2015, in their second game at Wonder, a thriller that was not decided until the fourth quarter. The Golden Lions turned the trick again last night. Needing a win to remain in serious contention for a regular-season district title, as well as a No. 1 seed in the postseason district tournament, Wonder (17-4 overall, 4-1 district) avenged an earlier loss to Marion (12-1 overall, 4-1 district) by dominating the fourth quarter in a 51-48 win. The Golden Lions scored the final seven points of the game after entering the final frame trailing 39-32 after the third quarter. “It feels great to get a win in Marion,” said a beaming Kwame Brown. “This is huge because all week we’ve preaching to our team to just do what we ask you to do. We asked our guys to dedicate this one to the coaching staff.” Brown’s gameplan revolved around limiting Marion freshman Timothy Caesar’s damage in the game. In Marion’s 61-45 win earlier in the month, Caesar netted 17 points, 21 rebounds and eight blocks. The lanky Marion post man bested his previous block total last night with nine, and still pulled down 12 rebounds, but was held to four points as Wonder threw a number of fronts at the Junior Pats to keep Caesar from getting an opportunity to score the basketball. Despite Wonder’s best efforts on defense, Marion trailed in the game only once at 2-0 until a pair of Morris free throws put the Golden Lions in front 49-48 with 38.4 seconds remaining. On Marion’s ensuing possession, the Junior Pats got two opportunities to surge ahead, including a Caesar look following an offensive rebound, but neither fell and when Wonder’s Cavin Paige came up with the rebound and drew a foul, the Golden Lion bench erupted onto the court. Paige, who scored a game-high 18 points, connected on both of his free throws to put Wonder ahead 51-48, and Marion called for time to plot their last shot with 7.5 seconds left on the clock. The ball went in to Marion freshman guard Keyshawn Woods, who scored 11 points. Woods brought the ball up the floor and got a pair of screens to get a look at a three-point basket from the top of the key, but the look just missed and the Golden Lions were able to celebrate their win that may have seemed unlikely when they trailed by as many as nine points with 5:18 remaining. “I told them that it (our gameplan) was going to work,” Brown said simply. “I told coach before the game to get us to the fourth quarter with a chance to win and I thought I could figure something out to get a us a win. I told our guys to hang in there and not to give up on the gameplan.” Marion will play West on Monday night while Wonder will play a make-up game in Jonesboro on Saturday.