MARION -- Back and forth ballgames have become a trend for Marion, evident by the see-saw victory the Wildcats picked up over Murphysboro this past weekend.
On Thursday, Marion found themselves in another tug-of-war with Cairo and again, the Wildcats pulled away late, earning a nine-point 58-49 win in another non-conference matchup.
Marion went 13-of-18 from the free throw line the fourth quarter and had a huge second half from sophomore Evan Noelle, who finished with 11 points and was one of three Wildcats to finish in double figures.
Noelle had a five-point swing in the third quarter, giving Marion a 40-36 lead as the Wildcats went into the final eight minutes up 41-38.
Cairo knotted the game at 41-all early in the fourth, but a bucket by Rayzhaun Bardo and two more free throws from Noelle gave the Wildcats a 46-41 lead, one they would not relinquish.
The game featured 15 lead changes and nine ties.
Marion trailed 14-11 after one quarter and the Wildcats outscored Cairo 14-12 in the second quarter to trail by one, 26-25 at halftime.
The Pilots built a five-point 30-25 lead early in the third, but Venson Newsom gave Marion a two-point 33-31 advantage after a pair of free throws with 4:46 to play. From there, the Wildcats outscored Cairo 15-5 in taking a 41-38 lead going into the fourth.
Bardo led Marion with 13 points, while Jordan Cook tacked on 12 points.
Hunter Simmons added eight points for the Wildcats, while Trevor Jackson and Newsome each scored seven points a piece.
Isaiah Brown led all players with 21 points, while Alton Hervey netted 14 points and Dyavonte Morse tacked on 10.
Marion will play at Centralia Friday to conclude the week.
Spyder Dann covers prep and college sports for the Southern Illinois LOCAL Media Group. Follow him on Twitter: @spydieshooter.