The Mississinewa Indians, playing in their first game since their loss to the Oak Hill Golden Eagles in the Grant Four Championship, put forth a tremendous effort against the Marion Giants on Tuesday evening at the Bill Green Arena.
The Indians stuck right with the Giants the entire game, trailing by eight points at halftime and five points after the third quarter, before tying the game at 40-40 with 3:30 to go in regulation.
But the Giants held firm, outscoring the Indians 17-4 the rest of the contest to come away with a 57-44 triumph.
Mississinewa played well defensively against Marion all evening long, forcing the Giants to try to beat them from outside the paint. Minus Ellie Vermilion, Marion does not have a plethora of three point shooters.
“We started the game daring them to shoot the ball [by] packing it inside,” Mississinewa Head Coach Omega Tandy said. “They proved what we knew – they don’t score well outside. We did a good job with our gameplan.”
Furthemore, Caily Bolser, who plays more around the perimeter, made her living underneath the basket against the Giants, playing physical basketball against Marion post players Jazmyn Turner and RaShaya Kyle.
“They played a box-and-one to try to make Ellie work for everything she got,” Marion Head Coach Lawrence Jordan said. “It was difficult at first to figure out the defense, and then [Bolser] was an opposing presence in the paint. When I watched her on film, she very rarely went to the paint – she was out on the perimeter shooting threes. Tonight, she had her way and she was effective in the first half and that’s how they were able to stay with us.”
Mississinewa kept coming in the second half, trimming the Marion lead until they tied the game three quarters of the ways through the final stanza. However, the Giants did not lose focus, getting to the foul line and knocking down their free throws to secure their fourth straight victory.
“We didn’t panic,” Jordan said. “Once they tied it up…we spread it out a little bit and then got to the free throw line a few times to create some space.”
Turner led the Giants in scoring with 28 points, while Kyle came away with 16.
Despite the loss, Tandy was extremely proud of how her team played.
“We played a great basketball game,” Tandy said. “I thought our gameplan was great, and the girls really executed and bought into it. They played really hard. It didn’t go our way this time, but I’m excited about the possibility of being able to play them again in sectionals. I’m proud of our girls for how we played today.”
Though the contest will go into the record books as a defeat, Tandy and the Indians still feel good about where they are at, and that is going to serve them well in the final stages of the regular season.
“The biggest thing for us is that we have confidence,” Tandy said. “This is the same team that beat us by 40 twice last year. Our girls have really gotten the confidence in themselves in who we are. That is what we take from this game. We know we can play and we believe we can play with that team, and we came out with that same energy, effort, and attitude. What we take from this game is that we are capable of [playing] with any time in our sectional.”
Bolser paced the Indians with 20 points on nine-of-10 shooting from the floor, while Darah Watson, who has really found her offensive game as of late, finished with nine.