Marion competes, falls against Little Rock Central
By Chuck Livingston Sports Editor
Marion won’t be winning its conference title this season, and its fate in the Class 6A basketball tournament remains to be seen, but if the past two games are any indication, the Lady Patriots may be hitting their stride late in the year. Following a tight 49-43 loss to North Little Rock last Friday night on the road, Marion returned home to Patriot Arena last night and battled the nationally-ranked Little Rock Central Lady Tigers for three quarters before ultimately falling 59-44. Marion may have been closer at the final buzzer if not for 23 turnovers lost and a 30-23 rebounding disadvantage. “At times, I thought our defense was pretty good, and other times it really wasn’t,” said Little Rock Central head coach Michael Green. “I think that we sort of lost focus.” Little Rock Central got a big night from University of Arkansas commit Kiara Williams. Williams poured in 15 points and 10 rebounds, as well as three blocked shots. The Lady Tigers were paced by Alexsis Brown’s 16 points. Marion trailed just 13-10 after the first quarter, but 10 second-quarter turnovers turned quickly into easy baskets for Little Rock Central, which paved the way for a 29-16 Central lead at halftime. The Lady Tigers hit the Lady Pats with a 10-0 run during the middle portion of the second quarter. That run carried Little Rock Central to its first double-digit lead of the game at 23-12 on a Williams stickback, and peaked at 29-12. Marion would turn the tables in the third quarter, however. Marion turned Little Rock Central over five times in the frame, while an aggressive Lady Pats offensive attack earned the hosts 14 free throw attempts in the stanza, 11 of which resulted in makes. Marion would get within 41-36 following a pair of Ebony Day free throws with 29.5 seconds remaining, and the Lady Pats would trail 44-36 entering the fourth quarter. A Marie Hunter three-pointer got Marion within five points at 44-39, but Little Rock Central had a response. The Lady Tigers would score five straight points for a 49-39 lead, and close the game out by scoring eight of the game’s final 11 points to clinch the final. Little Rock Central (25-1 overall, 12-1 7A/6A-East) got 15 from Williams and Brown’s 16. Marion (9-17 overall, 2-11 7A/6A-East) was led by Day’s 16 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks, while Jakyya Clay and Marie Hunter hit for nine apiece.