Pats celebrate Senior Night with win
By Chuck Livingston Sports Editor
While Marion has played some of its best games away from home this season, the Pats had a proper send-off to Patriot Arena for the 2015-2016 season last night. Despite falling behind 30-17 in the second quarter, Marion circled the wagons and came all the way back to post a 53-51 win against Little Rock Central. On Senior Night, two of Marion’s soon-to-be graduates led the way. Marlon Warren and A.J. Latham, a pair of Hughes natives, hit for 14 points apiece, which led Marion. Perhaps more significantly was the timing of the points. After Marion fell behind 30-17, Warren hit three three-pointers in the last 2:12 of the first half to get the Pats within 33-28 at halftime. “That was huge, that was probably the turning point of the game, to be honest with you,” said Marion head coach Irving Clay matter-of-factly. “But to come back from a deficit like that means you’re getting stops, and that was huge too.” To get those stops, Marion held Little Rock Central to just a three of 17 showing from three-point range for the game, while also forcing 10 Tiger turnovers, seven of which came after halftime. Trailing 37-33, Marion hit Little Rock Central with a 9-0 run to take the lead for the first time since a 3-0 advantage in the first quarter. That lead came on a Warren three-point basket, with 3:20 left in the third period. Latham would add a lay-up and a Shaun Doss dunk ignited the crowd with a dunk to cap the spurt and leave Marion with a 42-37 lead. Marion led 42-39 after three quarters. However, Central didn’t go away. The Tigers would get within one point early in the fourth quarter, and two points on a pair of occasions in the fourth quarter. With 3:10 left in the game, Cameron Johnson hit a jump shot to get his team within 51-49, but Marion freshman Timothy Ceaser, playing in his first game on the varsity, hit a jumper of his own with 1:30 left to push the hosts’ lead back to four points at 53-49. A Johnson lay-up got the Tigers within 53-51 with 1:08 left and Marion held the ball until Doss drew a Little Rock Central foul with 24.8 seconds remaining, but he missed the front-end of a one-and-one to give the Tigers a chance with 16.9 seconds left. Johnson drove in from the right side of the lane and just missed a shot off of the glass, where Ceaser came up with the rebound before passing to teammate Kamari Marrs, who dribbled the clock out. While Marion finished in a flurry, it was Central who hit the floor on fire early on. The Tigers led 14-9 after the first quarter, and continued to roll into the second stanza claiming that 13-point lead, late in the half. “It’s Senior Night, and parents are here and they want to see their kids play,” Clay explained. “We were able to play everybody. At the end of the day, we made shots when we had to and we got stops when we had to.” Marion will finish its regular season on Friday night in Jonesboro. The Golden Hurricane moved to 13-0 in the 7A/6A-East with a 70-65 win against Cabot last night. Jonesboro has not lost in the conference since January of 2014. At the moment, the Patriots look good for the No. 2 seed in the Class 6A state tournament, though a win by 13 points or more in Jonesboro could force a tie for the No. 1 seed, though the Golden Hurricane have more tiebreaker points. Little Rock Central got a game-high 29 points from Johnson, but no other Tiger scored more than the four points that Matthew Means, Tyler Moore and Antoine Williams posted. Marion (14-10 overall, 9-4 7A/6A-East) got 14 apiece from Warren and Latham, while Doss added 13 and six rebounds. Ceaser blocked five shots and drew a start in his first game on the varsity. The Little Rock Central game was the last 7A/6A-East blended conference contest that Marion will host for the foreseeable future. Next season, Marion will see a different conference alignment which will feature them playing select 6A teams, as well as 5A teams.