CARBONDALE — Marion made history beating Cardinal Ritter, 54-48, to win the Reid Martin Championship Plus game for the first time at the Johnny Mac’s/CCHS 54th annual Holiday Tournament on Friday night.
"These kids were pretty determined," said Marion coach Gus Gillespie. "We got off to a slow start the first night on Wednesday, but these guys are playing with a little chip and had something to prove. We were led by our seniors, and Jackson Connor had two huge games to put us in this position, but everyone who stepped on that floor chipped in. This was a good tournament field and we beat some good teams to win it for the first time ever. I told the seniors this was something special."
Marion (11-2) was led by tournament MVP Jaden Lacy with 13 points. The Wildcats got 11 points by Justin Saddoris and 10 each from Cole Schafer and Terrell Henderson. Henderson also pulled down 11 rebounds while Lacy finished with 10. Joining Lacy on the All-Tournament team was his teammate, Jackson Connor.
"It felt great going out here my senior year with my brothers and winning this tournament for the first time," Lacy said. "I couldn’t have been named MVP without my teammates. They do a good job rebounding, boxing out and defending those shots."
The Wildcats fell behind 7-0 to start the game, but with the score tied at 13-13 to open the second quarter, the Wildcats went on a 10-0 run over the next 4:33 to open a big lead before setting for a seven-point lead at the half.
Marion came out of the intermission as hot as it went, jumping out to a 16-point lead with 2:39 left in the third quarter.
A 3-point basket by Ryan Torrey gave Cardinal Ritter some life as the Lions went on a run to cut the lead to seven to open the fourth quarter. However, Marion rallied back to extend the lead back 12 points, but Torrey made two more from beyond the arc to fuel a Lions 15-6 run to cut the lead down to three with 20 seconds remaining.
"They are a very quick athletic team," Gillespie said. "We controlled the pace for 28 minutes, but the last four favored them."
Saddoris, who had missed the front end of a 1-and-1 17 seconds earlier, was fouled again, and this time made both his free throws to make it a two-possession game with 19 seconds left.
"A lot of stuff was running through my head because I usually make them, so I don’t know what happened," Saddoris said. "All week at practice coach was talking about it being our turn to make history. It feels real good to come out with my best friends and do it."
In the third place game, Memphis Central (11-4) beat Saxony Lutheran (10-2), 58-50.
Carbondale (12-3) opened its day with a 48-45 win over Memphis University and then beat Meridian, 60-45, to claim fifth place. Darius Beane finished with 26 points, including shooting 60 percent from the field (9-of-15) and 7-of-8 from the free throw line.
For the tournament, Beane averaged 19.25 points a game while shooting .615 from the field (24-of-39) and .818 from the free throw line (27-of-33) and was named to the All-Tournament Team.
Marion started Championship Day by winning its first "AA" championship since winning three straight from 1985 to 1987, by beating Memphis Central, 68-52. Connor led the Wildcats with his second consecutive 20-point game.
"That’s a long time," Gillespie said. "I know they had some good squads in the late 80’s, but our kids have been pretty good the last day and a half and they deserve it. They’ve been practicing pretty hard lately and came in with some good focus. I’m happy for them."
The remainder of the All-Tournament team was comprised of Jeremy House from Murphysboro, Malek Davis and Jared Phillips from Cardinal Ritter, Jalen Williams from Saxony Lutheran, John Anderson, Jr. from Memphis Central, Ja’Quan Jones from Meridian and John McBride from Memphis University.