MARION — The Marion boys basketball team finished the Pyramid Plus Tournament on a strong note with a 77-43 win over Carterville on Saturday night in the finale of the event.
The Wildcats (4-1) ended the tournament with the same record as both Mount Vernon and Collinsville. Mount Vernon won the tournament based on free-throw percentage. The Rams only loss was to Marion on Friday evening.
“This was a good start for us, and obviously, we’ve got a lot of things to work on, but the effort was there,” said Marion coach Gus Gillespie. “This is a good tournament when you look at the teams that were in it. You look at Meridian that comes out of here with one win. That’s a heck of a team. I’m proud of our guys and just ready to get back to practice after a long week.”
Jaden Lacy finished off the Marion scoring in the first half with a dunk in transition. That gave the Wildcats a 32-21 lead at halftime.
The Wildcats used a pair of 8-0 runs in the third quarter to put the game away. Jackson Connor scored six points during Marion’s first 8-0 streak of the third period. Cole Schafer made a jump shot as well.
Carterville’s Justin Johnson finally got the Lions on the scoreboard with a basket in the paint, but Carterville trailed by 17 points at that time.
The Lions had trouble handling the 6-foot-6 Connor, who hit a triple to end the third quarter. Connor racked up 22 points through three quarters of play, and Marion held a 56-38 advantage.
Marion played well on defense and forced 16 Carterville turnovers in the first half alone.
“Our kids were moving and playing hard and getting our hands on a lot of balls,” Gillespie said. “We’re going to continue to have to make some adjustments, but this was a good place to start.”
Justin Johnson buried a 3-pointer to pull Carterville within 17-15 early in the second quarter. But the Wildcats ripped off seven straight points after that.
Connor, Schafer, and Terrell Henderson did the damage during that Marion streak.
Carterville, which played this weekend without its starting center, Luke Ford, finished the tournament 0-5.
“The effort was really good, especially in the two games today,” said Carterville coach Shane Hawkins. “I thought we made good strides, and we’re a lot better now than we were on Monday night. But I don’t know if we have a five-game stretch the rest of the season where we play five teams like that.”
Connor led all scorers with 25 points for Marion. Justin Johnson paced Carterville with 15 points.
The all-tournament team consisted of: Connor (Marion), Lacy (Marion), Henderson (Marion), Johnson (Carterville), Weston Brockhouse (Mount Vernon), Drew Ringel (Herrin), Ja’Quan Jones (Meridian), Ray’Sean Taylor (Collinsville), Marshall Harrison (Collinsville), Braeden Lemp (Collinsville).