Playing against the No. 1 team in Class 4A, the Marion Giants knew they would have a fight on their hands.
And very early on, the Northwestern Tigers, led by their tremendous duo of Madison Layden and Kendall Bostic, put the game out of reach, using a huge first quarter run to take control and holding that double-digit advantage the rest of the way in a 67-40 triumph.
The Tigers dominated the opening eight minutes, scoring the game’s first 24 points en route to a 28-5 first quarter lead.
“I told the girls we needed to punch them in the mouth, and they came out and punched us in our mouth,” Marion Head Coach Lawrence Jordan said. “Early on, we had three or four turnovers. You can’t turn the ball over against a veteran team – they live off of the turnovers.
Northwestern kept the pedal down, increasing their lead to 41-17 at the halftime break. They were remarkably efficient in the first two quarters, shooting 70 percent from the field and four-of-six from deep.
“They were lights out tonight,” Jordan said. “Out of their first eight or nine attempts, they were seven-of-eight or eight-of-nine at the beginning with two or three three-pointers. We dug ourselves quite the hole at the beginning…and we weren’t really able to recover.”
Ra’Shaya Kyle ended her final game with 25 points and 11 rebounds, capping what has been a tremendous four-year high school career. She leaves Marion as the all-time leading scorer for the Lady Giants.
“She’s grown tremendously. You’ve watched her mature before our very eyes the last three years,” Jordan said. “She has a lot of work to do, but she is a hidden gem, in my estimation. People see the 6-6 frame, but she really has all the tools to be really, really special.”
Ellie Vermilion collected eight points in her final contest, and throughout her career, provided a steady presence at the point guard position.
“Ellie exemplifies everything I stand for – accountability, hard work, and showing up every day knowing what the mission is,” Jordan said. “She developed herself into a good, quality college player. I’m extremely proud of her.”
The Giants finished the season with a 16-7 record.