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Saturday, January 26th, 2008
By Randy Bruns
Flyers slips past the Cavs at The Palace
COLDWATER - There's an old sports bromide stating that any league win on the road is a good one, and the Marion Local Flyers will certainly attest to that after Friday night.
Marion didn't exactly put on a textbook display of fundamental basketball, but it did just enough to stay unbeaten in the Midwest Athletic Conference with a 47-39 win over the Coldwater Cavaliers at The Palace.
Marion improves to 10-3 on the year and 6-0 in the MAC, while Coldwater falls to 7-5 overall and 2-2 in league play.
After spotting the Cavaliers an early 2-0 advantage, the Flyers quickly took the lead and never trailed thereafter. In an odd bit of symmetry, the visitors outscored the hosts by exactly two points in every quarter to take the win.
Defense ruled the early action, as both teams used zones to clog up the middle. Coldwater in particular suffered a drought from the perimeter, as it hit just 1-of-10 from beyond the three-point arc before halftime. Marion finally went on a modest 6-2 run at the end of the second stanza to take a 20-16 lead at the intermission.
The Flyers pulled out to an eight-point lead late in the third, but Cavalier Ryan Geier thrilled the home crowd when he caught an inbounds pass before the buzzer and laid it in while getting fouled. Geier missed the ensuing free throw, but the hosts had the momentum and scored the first three points of the fourth quarter to pull within three at 33-30.
At that point, though, the cold from outside seemed to seep into the gym, as the Cavaliers couldn't buy a bucket. The hosts were held scoreless over a five-minute span, and during that time the Flyers reeled off seven unanswered points to take a commanding 40-30 lead with just under a minute remaining. The visitors were then able to hit enough freebies down the stretch to come away with the victory.
The Cavaliers simply did not hit enough outside shots to give themselves a chance in the game, as they connected on just 3-of-24 from behind the arc.
"We had good looks and the guys we wanted shooting took their shots, but that's just the way this game is sometimes," said Coldwater coach Mike Kanney. "Give Marion credit, because their defense had a lot to do with that and they do a nice job with their zone. It was 33-30 and we were trying to make a run there, but I think we missed two threes in a row that would have tied it."
The slump was surprising to Kanney given Coldwater's success from the field so far this year.
"We've been shooting the ball real well the last couple of games," said Kanney. "We were shooting in the 50's and 60's (shooting percentage), but you're going to have these nights - just hopefully not too many."
Even though the Flyers were able to gut out the win, they struggled mightily in the fourth quarter, committing six turnovers and going just one-of-six from the foul line during one stretch.
"I told the guys that some of the things we did late in the game were the result of foolish decisions," said Marion coach Keith Westrick. "Our offense was pretty efficient when we took care of the ball but unforced turnovers and our free-throw shooting kept letting the door open. These guys are working on free throws all the time, and a lot it just comes from confidence."
Still, Westrick doesn't want his team's late-game foibles to take too much of the shine off another conference win.
"I told them that they played some very good stretches of basketball, and not to let the negative things overshadow the positive of getting their sixth MAC win," said Westrick. "Plus, we have plenty of room to improve, and we know we can get a lot better."
Marion had a balanced scoring effort, as Jordan Winner led all scorers with 12 and Alex Moeller and Troy Prenger added 10 apiece. Geier paced Coldwater with 11 markers.
Both teams return to action tonight, as Marion will travel to Fort Loramie and Coldwater stays at home to host Elida.
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