Playing in their final regular season home game on Friday evening, the Giants, despite a slow beginning, picked up their seventh conference victory with a 69-51 triumph over the Lafayette Jefferson Bronchos.
The game was close at the beginning, as the Giants led by just one point with 3:41 remaining the first quarter, and led by just three points, 11-8, heading into the second quarter.
“We got off to a sluggish start. RaShaya has been sick since the Logansport game…and she is still super weak,” Marion Head Coach Lawrence Jordan said. “So were a little sluggish at the beginning. We tried to establish Ra’Shaya at the beginning, but she wasn’t really moving like I wanted her too, so that’s why the game was close at the beginning.”
But in the second quarter, the Giants settled in on both ends of the floor. Ra’Shaya Kyle found her offensive touch, the defense was aggressive in the half-court, and at halftime, the Giants had increased their advantage to 12 points at 34-22.
Marion led by double-digits the rest of the way, improving to 7-2 in the NCC and 16-5 overall heading into the final week of the regular season.
“In the second quarter, [Kyle] got more engaged. Ashanti Cardine knocked some shots down. Ellie knocked down some shots for us, and that opened things up,” Jordan said. “It was a battle, but in the last 24 minutes, the best team won.”
Kyle finished with 25 points to lead the Giants, while Ellie Vermilion collected 19.
Saturday’s game marked the last regular season home contests for Kyle, Vermilion, Kaliyah Jones and Taylor Kitts, and the impact they have each had on the program is evident. In the last three years, Kyle, Vermilion, and Jones have helped guide Marion to three straight winning seasons, two sectional championships, and a regional crown.
“[They have] meant everything,” Jordan said. “At the end of the day, I want to be judged on how I treat my girls and my relationship with my girls, and they know I love them more than anything. With regards to Ellie and Ra’Shaya, who have been with me my whole 75 games, it’s been an emotional day. As they move into college and become young ladies down the road, it’s been a blessing to be a part of [their] lives.
“They are a special group of girls. They’ve bought in. They’ve worked their butts off, and I feel like that is why we’ve been successful.”