Caesar’s triple-double helps set up round 3 with Wonder
By Chuck Livingston Sports Editor
It can’t be an easy task to win reach consecutive 7A/6A-East district title games. Unless a team defends like the Marion Junior Patriots did last night. Marion (18-1 overall) topped Jonesboro Annie Camp 43-22 at Lehr Arena to reach the final for the second straight season in a semifinal game by limiting Annie Camp to a chilly eight of 41 shooting night from the floor. The Patriots will look to avenge their only loss of the 2015-2016 season on Friday night at 6:15 PM when they play Wonder. Marion beat West for last season’s title at Patriot Arena. “One of the major things that we saw tonight was defensive effort,” explained Marion head coach Johnny Washington. “We played a lot better defense than we have all year tonight. I felt like we wanted to play defense tonight, and I’ve always been a coach that has said if you play defense then you can win games.” One of the reasons Marion’s defense was so stingy was the presence of six-foot-seven-inch center Timothy Caesar. The rangy freshman posted at least his second triple-double of the season against Annie Camp, scoring a game-high 21 points, while also posting 13 rebounds and 12 blocks. He had previously posted a triple-double with points, boards and blocks against East in December. Caesar battled foul trouble and was held scoreless in Marion’s last game against Annie Camp, a 43-39 win in early February, but he wasted no time leaving his impact on the game in last night’s elimination contest. The center scored 13 points in the first quarter, while also re-routing six shots, to give Marion a 13-8 lead after the first quarter. “I calmed my attitude down and just played my game,” Caesar said when asked about the difference between the last two games between his team and Annie Camp. Marion stole its first double-digit lead in the second quarter when Tyler Little scored on a stickback for a 19-8 advantage. The Patriots would lead 21-10 at halftime. That first half saw Annie Camp hit just four of their 25 field goal attempts. Entering the game, one of the catalysts of Annie Camp’s offensive attack was slated to be 7th-grader B.J. Wilson. Wilson scored a game-high 14 points in the Jonesboro outfit’s opening-round win against West Memphis East, but Marion showed the exciting guard a variety of defensive fronts in holding him to four points. “We tried to stay active on defense,” says Washington. “Wanted to stay low, get deflections and I felt like it may have been hard to see because we have some big guards on our team. We just wanted to make sure that he saw a substantial amount of pressure.” Marion pushed its lead to 12 points after three quarters at 27-15 and the Pats opened the third quarter with a quick 6-0 run for a 33-15 advantage. That run was capped off by a pair of buckets from 8th-grader Detrick Reeves Jr. Keyshawn Woods would find Caesar with an alley-oop for a 43-22 Marion lead, that would double as the game’s final tally. Washington was happy with the win, but knows that his team has one huge hurdle left. “Wonder’s really good. They’re talented, they’ve played together for a long time in the summer, and that makes a difference. It’ll be a great test for us again,” said the Marion head man. Tip-off on Friday night is scheduled for 6:15 p.m.