PINCKNEYVILLE — Coming off an emotional loss at home Friday night, the Marion Wildcats exploded in the fourth quarter for a come-from-behind, 47-36, win over Breese Mater Dei at the 4th Annual Panther Basketball Showcase played in Duster Thomas Gymnasium on Saturday.
"You have to have a bad memory in case of games like last night," said Marion assistant coach Darrell Wimberly. "You can’t let that carry over into the next game and we were determined not to do that."
Marion (15-7) took an early 5-2 lead, but lost that momentum as the Knights went on a 16-5 run to take an eight-point lead with 2:39 remaining in the second quarter.
Justin Saddoris made a last-second layup to get the momentum back for the Wildcats and cut the lead to 18-12 at the half.
The third quarter wasn’t much better offensively, with Marion shooting 4-of-13, but Mater Dei went completely cold, making just 1-of 9 shots to open the door the Wildcats to make their comeback.
"Our kids played a great second half," Wimberly said. "Mater Dei is a really good team. They have a lot of good shooters, so we had to play man and I was proud of them for playing hard, mainly on defense, holding them to six points in both the second and third quarters."
Game MVP Terrell Henderson kept the momentum going with a putback to open the third quarter. After Mater Dei missed a series of shots, Cole Schafer drained a 3-pointer from right side to pull the Wildcats within one point.
Henderson finished with eight points, all coming on rebounds, and led the game with 10 rebounds, including eight on the offensive end of the court.
"It was a hard-nosed game," Henderson said. "Our coach told us to put last night’s game behind us and play hard today. We like playing at a fast pace like we did in the second half."
Mater Dei extended its lead back to two when Blake Gebke was fouled by Henderson and made his first free throw, but missed his second.
Schafer completed the comeback with a 3-pointer from the left corner 23 seconds later to give Marion its first lead since the 1:03 mark of the first quarter. The Knights regained the lead on two free throws 25 seconds later, but Saddoris got the lead back on a three-point play by drawing a foul on a jumper and making the free throw.
Lucas Theising returned the favor with a three-point play of his own, but with 1:30 remaining, Jaden Lacy drew a shooting foul. After missing his first free throw, he made his second to tie the score at 24 heading into the fourth quarter.
The fourth was all Marion as the Wildcats scored 23 points, almost matching their total in the first three quarters combined. Marion shot 8-of-12 while Mater Dei continued its tepid shooting, hitting just 4-of-13.
Saddoris got the ball rolling with a layup at the 35 second mark as the Wildcats went on an 11-4 run to take a seven-point lead with 4:37 remaining. Marion extended its lead to nine points 1:42 later and notched the final margin on a steal and a layup by Jackson Connor with 1:56 left.
Connor was the game’s leading scorer with 13 points, while Theising led the Knights with 12.
The Wildcats scored 24 points from lane and 16 points off offensive rebounds while Mater Dei managed only 14 in the paint and eight on second chances. Schafer came off the bench to score nine points, including hitting 2-of-3 from beyond the arc.
In the final game, Pinckneyville beat Belleville Althoff, 75-50. J.C. Moll led the Panthers with 18 points, with Grant Jausel adding 17, leaving him 25 points away from 1,000 for his career.
"We had four players in double figures and one with eight; that just shows how our kids are willing to share the basketball," said Pinckneyville coach Bob Waggoner. "It was a great day of basketball with a lot of different match ups and very competitive games. First National Bank does a great job of helping us with it and it’s a day to showcase Pinckneyville."
In the preceding game, Jonathan Keeler’s layup at the buzzer lifted Centralia to a 61-59 win over Paducah Tilghman. Javon Williams led the entire event with 28 points for the Orphans with Jordan Maines finishing with 16.
Paducah Tilghman was a late entry replacing Marshall County (KY), which suffered a tragic school shooting four days earlier. The showcase raised $3,250 to be donated to the school for its recovery efforts.
"It says a lot about our community and how many people care," Waggoner said. "It’s not going to make up for what happened, but you try to help and this is one way to do it."
The Showcase opened with Cairo beating Odin, 87-74, with Malachai Brown scoring 20 points and Damarius Taylor 28. In the second game, Richard Robinson’s 12 points led Cahokia to a 45-36 win over Webber.
The afternoon opened with Mary Institute and St. Louis Country Day School beating Waltonville, 64-27. Jack Proger had 10 points and eight rebounds and Julian Cheaney finished with 14.
Mounds Meridian then beat Steeleville, 56-50, with Demond Vasser scoring 21 points. Confluence Prep Academy (St. Louis, MO) followed with a 68-55 win over Trenton Wesclin. Brandon Fredrick scored 23 points.