Breaking News Bar

MJHS boys capture third place at Class L finals

  • The Marion Junior High School boys basketball team poses with the Class L third place trophy.

    The Marion Junior High School boys basketball team poses with the Class L third place trophy.
    Justin Walker Photo

  • Chase Thomas shoots over Deavon Margrum.

    Chase Thomas shoots over Deavon Margrum.
    Justin Walker Photo

  • Venson Newsom and Landon Bolen go for a loose ball.

    Venson Newsom and Landon Bolen go for a loose ball.
    Justin Walker Photo

  • Marion coach Bradley Griffith

    Marion coach Bradley Griffith
    Justin Walker Photo

  • Reid Baumgarte goes in for a layup.

    Reid Baumgarte goes in for a layup.
    Justin Walker Photo

  • Isaiah McLorn shoots over Chase Owens.

    Isaiah McLorn shoots over Chase Owens.
    Justin Walker Photo

  • Reid Baumgarte

    Reid Baumgarte
    Justin Walker Photo

  • Devyn Wright

    Devyn Wright
    Justin Walker Photo

  • Isaiah McLorn

    Isaiah McLorn
    Justin Walker Photo

  • Rayzhaun Bardo

    Rayzhaun Bardo
    Justin Walker Photo

  • Bradley Griffith

    Bradley Griffith
    Justin Walker Photo

  • DaMareon Cooper

    DaMareon Cooper
    Justin Walker Photo

  • Tariq Sanders

    Tariq Sanders
    Justin Walker Photo

  • Rayzhaun Bardo hits a 3-pointer with 45 seconds left.

    Rayzhaun Bardo hits a 3-pointer with 45 seconds left.
    Justin Walker Photo

  • Rayzhaun Bardo

    Rayzhaun Bardo
    Justin Walker Photo

  • The Marion Junior High School boys basketball team and cheerleaders pose with the Class L third place trophy.

    The Marion Junior High School boys basketball team and cheerleaders pose with the Class L third place trophy.
    Justin Walker Photo

 
updated: 2/17/2018 12:25 AM

INA -- The Marion Junior High School boys basketball team overcame a 14-point deficit and rallied past Benton Middle School, 47-43, Thursday night in the third-place game of the SIJHSAA Class L state tournament at Rend Lake College's Waugh Gymnasium.

Rayzhaun Bardo hit a 3-pointer with 45 seconds left that gave Marion the ninth lead change of the game and proved to the be the winning basket after the Rangers turned the ball over and Bardo tacked on two free throws with 16.6 ticks left. Benton couldn't convert and Marion was able to run out the clock.

"I thought our defensive effort was phenomenal," said MJHS head coach Bradley Griffith. "We played hard and harassed Benton the entire second half and that's what won us the game."

After a scoreless opening stretch, the points came fast and furious.

Benton scored the first five points with a basket from Landon Bolen and a triple by Reid Baumgarte, then Marion scored the next eight points starting with a three-point play by Deavon Margrum and four straight from Tariq Sanders.

Then the Rangers went on a 15-0 run with treys from Baumgarte and Tyler Chamness and a 35-foot banked-in buzzer-beater by Keegan Glover at the end of the first quarter. The run continued in the second with layups by Baumgarte and Chase Owens.

Bolen joined the long-range club with a 3-pointer of his own and when Baumgarte knocked down his third, the Rangers suddenly had a 28-14 lead with 2:19 still left in the first half.

But the Wildcats took some serious momentum into the locker room when Bardo hit a halfcourt shot to end the half. It not only cut Benton's lead to 30-23 but started what would eventually be a 10-0 lead-swinging run in the third quarter.

"Benton came out a lot hungrier than we did and put us in a hole," Griffith said. "We could've very easily folded and conceded third place to them, but our guys responded and went out fighting."

During the regular season, Benton led the first meeting at the half and the second game was tied at the break. In both games, Marion went on a big run in the third quarter. While that trend continued in the third matchup, the Wildcats didn't run away this time.

But they did take the lead in the third quarter as Sanders, Devyn Wright and Isaiah McLorn provided points to put Marion ahead 33-30 with five minutes left in the third quarter. It went back and forth from there.

The Rangers went in front 37-35 when Baumgarte made his fourth 3-pointer of the night. Sanders scored to send the game into the fourth quarter tied at 37.

Benton was clinging to a 41-40 lead when Marion's Venson Newsom was fouled and split two free throws but DaMareon Cooper got the rebound and McLorn scored to put the Wildcats in front.

Both teams missed valuable bonus free throws after that and Benton went ahead for the last time at 43-42 on a basket from Owens before Bardo drilled his 3-pointer with 45 seconds left.

"Ray Bardo made a couple huge shots and Tariq Sanders had his best game of the season," Griffith said. "They made the plays when we needed them."

Sanders finished with a game-high 18 points, McLorn had 12 and Bardo put in nine for the Wildcats.

Baumgarte led the Rangers with 16 points and Bolen had 11. Chamness added seven and Glover had five.

Marion's season ended with a 23-2 record.

"It was a great ending to an awesome season," Griffith said. "My number one hope is that our players will be able to look back at this year for the rest of their lives and remember it as a fun experience and be proud of their accomplishments."

NOTES: In the article about Marion's semifinal loss to Centralia, it was incorrectly stated that it was their first meeting of the season. Way back on Nov. 20, the Wildcats rolled to an 80-27 win over a shorthanded Centralia squad in Marion. Another scheduled game in Centralia on Jan. 16 was canceled by icy weather. ... In the championship game Thursday night, Collinsville defeated Centralia, 34-32, on a basket in the final seconds. ... Marion's only other loss of the season came out of state against Murray Middle School in a tournament at North Marshall Middle School in Kentucky.