MARION — On an evening where Marion gave its six boys basketball seniors a successful sendoff in their final home game of the season, it was a sophomore who came off the bench to lead the way.
Jackson Connor fired in a game-high 22 points Saturday night as the Wildcats bounced Meridian 71-55 for a non-conference win at Cuss Wilson Gym.
Connor hit 7-of-14 shots from the field and attacked the basket aggressively all game, attracting enough fouls to get to the line nine times and make seven. He also added six rebounds and a pair of steals.
“Jackson was Jackson,” Marion assistant coach Darrell Wimberly said. “He can really play. It all boils down to shot selection with him. When he lets the game come to him, he can be tough.”
One of the six seniors, 6-5 center Terrell Henderson, tacked on 17 points to go along with seven rebounds and three blocked shots as he used his muscle to win most of the battles inside against the tall Bobcats.
Cole Schafer netted 11 points, nine on 3s, as the Wildcats (17-10) followed up Friday night’s 52-51 squeaker over Belleville Althoff with a game that they led almost wire-to-wire.
“Meridian came locked in and ready to battle, but our guys played really well,” Wimberly said.
Marion established a 10-4 lead and made it 16-9 after a quarter when backup guard Boston Ziegler beat the buzzer with a 3-pointer. Connor lit it up for 10 points in the second period as the Wildcats upped their lead to 30-20 at intermission.
The Bobcats, who Friday night raced up and down the floor for 117 points in a 72-point rout of Shawnee, edged into contention early in the fourth quarter. Senior guard Ja’Quan Jones started the period with a 3-ball that cut their deficit to 49-42.
At that point, Marion put together an 11-1 run that removed all doubt. Henderson had six points in that span, including a layup to cap the spurt and make it a 60-43 advantage.
Eddie Robertson tallied 19 points to pace Meridian (16-12), while Jones added 12. Darnell Lowe scored 10 points despite drawing three first half fouls, then picking up his fourth early in the third quarter.
The Wildcats converted 20-of-26 free throws while the Bobcats hit just 6-of-9.