Marion Girls advance to Great 8

Lady Pats not done yet

By Chuck Livingston Sports Editor

RUSSELLVILLE — The Marion Lady Patriots aren’t done yet. After locking down the final postseason spot from the 6A-East, Marion advanced to the Class 6A quarterfinal round on the strength of a 51-21 win against Benton yesterday afternoon at Cyclone Arena. The Lady Pats held Benton to just a single field goal in the game’s first and third quarters. Marion will play the host school, Russellville, today at 4 p.m. with the winner advancing to the state semifinals on Saturday. For Marion, early foul trouble almost worked to its advantage against Benton, the No. 3 seed from the 6A-South. With starting forwards Tei Boston, Ebony Day and Jakyya Clay saddled with two fouls apiece in the first quarter, Marion head coach Shunda Johnson was forced to downsize her lineup with more her guards. That adjustment helped Marion turn Benton over 22 times in the game, including nine in the first quarter alone. “My guards came in and did a very good job of just hanging in there,” Johnson explained. “We were very aggressive, but we didn’t foul. I thought that was really good.” Those turnovers allowed Marion to lead 11-4 after the first quarter and 23-13 at half-time. Despite playing a smaller lineup, Marion was still competitive on the boards, winning that battle 26-21, led by Clay and Boston’s six boards apiece. While Clay left her mark on the glass, once she re-entered the game in the third quarter, she went to work on offense. Clay scored all eight of her points in that quarter to outscore Benton all alone, 8-2, and Marion coasted into the fourth quarter ahead 39-18. Marion will now turn its attention to Russellville, the No. 1 seed from the 6A-Central. “I told our girls on the way to the arena tonight that the records are out the window now,” Johnson said. “We were 8-18, but that doesn’t matter anymore.” Benton got seven points from Grace Bryant and six from Haley Gray. Marion got 14 from Marie Hunter, 10 from Mya McCray and eight apiece from Clay and Boston. Russellville was 9-5 against the 7A/6A-Central in the regular season, but was 6-0 against 6A-Central opponents Siloam Springs, Greenwood and Alma. The game against Russellville will tip at 4 p.m. and can be heard on FM 92.5 KWYN.

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