For two-and-a-half quarters, the Marion Giants played efficient basketball against longtime NCC rival Lafayette Jefferson, knocking down their shots and playing sound defense.
However, after battling back early in the third quarter to cut their deficit to four points, the Bronchos took control the rest of the way, outscoring the Giants 31-13 in the final 12 minutes of the contest en route to a 65-43 triumph.
“We were only down [four,] then all of the sudden, we don’t score,” Marion Head Coach Jerry Freshwater said. “We missed some shots, and they got some easy layups. A four-quarter game for us has been hard all year.”
The Giants, who trailed by as many as 18 in the second quarter of play, began to trim the Broncho lead late in the period. Over the final 2:30, the Giants outscored the Bronchos 11-2, which included a pair of triples from freshman Lalah Boyd and another from fellow freshman Talia Alsup, making it a 29-20 contest at halftime.
Marion kept pressing through the third quarter, and a Tori Beal basket around the three-minute mark had the Giants down four at 34-30 and with momentum swinging their direction.
However, after that, the Giants’ offense went cold, and the Bronchos began to pull away. Lafayette Jefferson ended the third quarter on a 9-3 run and led by double-digits the rest of the way.
While the Giants kept the game close early on, their offense was not efficient. For the game, Marion only shot 15-of-65 (23 percent) from the field and at times seemed to force shots rather than set up and run their offense.
Those quick looks resulted in a plethora of rebounds for the Bronchos, who had three players finish with nine boards or more. Sanaa Cartledge led the way with 16 rebounds, which included 11 in the first half of play.
“Instead of catching the ball square like we have been doing, tonight, we were rushing them,” Freshwater said. “We were just kind of throwing them up there, but there wasn’t any pressure.”
However, despite the loss, Freshwater continues to be impressed with the progress he has seen from his squad.
“The girls are playing hard and doing the things that we need them to do,” Freshwater said. “It’s hard, but they are working at it. We’ve got freshmen playing at the varsity level. They are doing the things we need to do to improve. That’s the main thing.”
Olivia Aguilar, Marion’s lone upperclassman, finished with 15 points and nine rebounds in the contest and continues to provide leadership to the Giants’ younger players.
“She makes everybody else better when she is on, and going, and doing the things we needed them to do,” Freshwater said.
Boyd finished with eight points and seven rebounds, while Beal collected six points for the Giants.
Entering the last week of their regular season, Freshwater and the Giants are just looking to finish the season strong.
“We still have to work on fundamentals and try to [put together] a complete game,” Freshwater said. “We’ve got two more games, two more conference games. We are going to keep working on the basic stuff – catch, dribble, pass – and doing those little things we need to do.”