Marion drops Mountain Home in thriller
By Chuck Livingston Sports Editor
Sara Lehman’s lucky number must be the number 3. During her run as the Marion Junior High girls head coach, every time Lehman’s team has entered the district tournament seeded No. 3, they’ve always reached the final of that same tournament. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Marion outlasted Mountain Home in yesterday afternoon’s semifinal game at Lehr Arena, winning 43-39 to advance to the district title game for the second straight season. The Lady Pats trailed 34-32 with 2:10 remaining before hitting Mountain Home with a 11-4 run to close the game, highlighted by nine unanswered points to lead by as much as 40-34 late in the fourth quarter. The win avenged Marion’s loss to Mountain Home in last year’s district final game, played in Patriot Arena. Marion will play Wonder on Friday night at 5 p.m. The Lady Golden Lions swept the two league meetings and are currently 21-0. “Well, we executed our offense and defense pretty well,” Lehman said. “In the first half, we didn’t want them to score any threes. We knew that they’d hit some, but I told them to stay calm and play through it.” Marion’s scheme to keep Mountain Home from hitting from deep in the first half was a rousing success. The Lady Bombers did not make any of their eight triples in the game’s first two quarters and Marion hit the lockers with an 18-14 lead. Helping Marion to that lead was the aggressiveness of eighth-grader Joi Montgomery. Montgomery posted game-high totals of 20 points and 11 rebounds, and the two often went hand-in-hand as Montgomery would corral a board and outrace the Lady Bombers for a lay-up at the other end. Montgomery posted eight of her points in the first half. After halftime, Mountain Home finally heated up from distance, hitting four of 11, to get the Lady Bombers within 29-27 after three quarters. The fourth quarter played host to two ties and four lead changes in the final, furious six minutes. While Montgomery had hit for 17 points through three quarters, she began to run out of gas in the fourth as she did not come off of the floor. Luckily, Marion got a lift from Keiana Delaney. Delaney scored seven of her 11 points in the final frame, while also coming up with four rebounds, to keep the Lady Pats close. With 2:43 lead, Delaney put Marion back in front at 32-31 before a Payton Huskey three-pointer gave the Lady Bombers the lead back. Delaney tied the score at 34-34 following a pair of free throws and gave Marion the lead for good when she posted an offensive board and came up with an old-fashioned three-point play for a 37-34 lead. “Joi Montgomery was huge tonight and Keiana stood up when they started boxing Joi,” Lehman said. “They just came together as a team and came up with a great win.” Marion had previously dropped Mountain Home in December at a pre-season tournament, winning on a buzzer-beater. Mountain Home got 10 points from Anna Grace Foreman and eight apiece from Kenzie Collins Huskey. Marion got Montgomery’s 20 points, 11 from Delaney and four points apiece from McAdory and Glowsier. Wonder 37 Jonesboro MacArthur 24 Wonder stayed perfect by ripping Jonesboro MacArthur at Lehr Arena in the other girls semifinals. MacArthur did their best to slow the game down against Wonder, trying to limit possessions, but it only worked for the first quarter. “We played them three times this year. The first time I think we held them to nine or 10 (points). Second time, almost 20 points. Tonight, we told them to keep them where we needed it to be,” explained Wonder head coach Kwame Brown. Wonder got a game-high 19 points from Aryiah Hazley and 16 from backcourt mate Tashlee Milow. Kenya Freeman added two points. MacArthur got six points from McDaniel, five from Tate and four from Wilson. The Lady Golden Lions will look to avenge a 2015 district semifinal loss to Marion on Friday night when they play the Lady Pats at Lehr Arena. That game will tip at 5 p.m.