By Randy Bruns
MARIA STEIN -- For two and a half quarters, things looked bleak for the hometown Marion Local fans at the Hangar.
The Versailles Tigers were scoring from the inside and the outside, and the Flyers were having trouble penetrating a stingy Tiger defense.
Then the Flyers stepped up the pressure, and things turned around in a hurry.
Marion Local recovered from a sluggish start with a 20-point fourth quarter flurry and recorded a hard-earned 52-50 Midwest Athletic Conference victory.
Marion improves to 4-2 overall and 2-0 in the MAC, while Versailles slips to 4-3 on the year and 0-1 in league play. With Marion down by nine early in the third quarter, a malfunctioning scoreboard delayed the game 15 minutes, but the break certainly didn't help the hosts. Marion did pull within five, but Lynette Stauffer drilled a pair of three-pointers and drove the lane for a layup to put Versailles up 34-22 midway through the period.
After a timeout and a loud lecture from coach Treva Fortkamp, the Flyers regrouped and whittled the lead back down to six at the quarter break, setting the stage for a wild and wooly final frame.
Marion finally tied things up at 42 apiece halfway through the fourth on two free tosses by Maria Moeller, but the teams traded the lead twice before Justine Raterman tied the game at 50-all on a jumper with 15 seconds left.
Moeller was then fouled while driving the lane with five ticks remaining, and the senior calmly drained both freebies. The Tigers had one last chance to tie, but Megan Shardo's off-balance runner at the buzzer hit the side of the backboard to secure the Flyer victory.
"Versailles outplayed us for two and a half quarters, but we won the last quarter and a half because we played in-your-shorts defense," said Fortkamp. "Every time we play good defense our offense just goes, because we feed off of it. When we got in their shorts and got some steals, then we were able to go."
The Tigers were hampered by foul trouble, as leading scorers Stauffer and Raterman both spent significant time on the bench in the second half. It was a good thing for the Flyers, too, because Stauffer hurt them with penetration and outside shooting and Raterman had her way inside the lane, especially in the first half.
"Some of the girls were hanging their heads in the locker (Continued from page 10A)
room after the game because we had so many chances to win," said Versailles coach Jackie Stonebraker, "But when you come up here and play a team that's supposed to be the best team in the MAC and you only lose by two points, we played a heck of a game. They did exactly what I wanted them to do, but it just came to the point where any time Maria (Moeller) got touched it was going to be a whistle. When you play that tight it's hard to stay out of foul trouble."
Moeller was the only Flyer in double digits with a game-high 20 points, while Versailles was paced by Stauffer's 15 and Raterman's 14.
Both teams return to action next Wednesday, as Versailles travels to St. Henry and Marion makes the trek to Troy.