MARION — Mount Vernon hit 4-of-6 free throws in the last 25 seconds to hold onto a 61-56 win over Marion in a South Seven Conference girls basketball game Thursday at Virgil “Cuss” Wilson Gymnasium on Marion’s Senior Night.
“We had the same type of game the first time we played, and they were able to come out on top in overtime, so we expected this,” said Mount Vernon coach Jeff Lonnon. “The difference (is), we were better down the stretch and more clutch in the end with our free throw shooting. We broke the press in the last two or three minutes and didn’t choke the ball up one time, and in other games we paid for that. We’ve lost seven games by five points or less, so it’s nice see us keep our composure at the end. I’m most proud of that tonight.”
Mount Vernon (10-14, 3-6 South Seven) trailed by one at the beginning of the fourth quarter, but three consecutive 3-pointers by Lauren Heinzman, Bria Meyer and Savannah Childers followed by two free throws by Kendal Ryan gave the Lady Rams a seven-point lead with 4:54 remaining.
Marion (9-17, 2-7 South Seven) made a run, cutting the lead to one with 26.9 seconds left on a 3-pointer by freshman Jordan Turner.
“It was a good game and well played by both teams,” said Marion coach Chris Roberts. “We had a 3 down the stretch that just didn’t go and that’s a freshman taking that. We have a lot of confidence in her.”
Heinzman was then fouled two seconds later and made the first, but missed the second to extend the lead to two points with 24.7 seconds left.
It took the Lady Wildcats 12 seconds before Turner attempted another 3 from the same spot, but it bounced off the rim and Ryan pulled down the rebound and was fouled. She made both to give the Lady Rams a four-point margin.
Heinzman then stole the ball and was fouled with 3.8 seconds left and again made her first and missed her second to give her 20 points for the game to leave her two-points shy of 1,000 for her career.
“There were a lot of ups and downs throughout the game, but we pulled through and won,” Heinzman said. “I missed two free throws and sat a whole quarter (with four fouls). I’m happy I made one of them honestly, my free throws have been a mystery all season. The win was more important, but I was hoping I would get it, too, to get it over with. I will get it the next game I guess.”
Seniors Nia Marshall and Orea Cosby were honored before the game and Cosby scored the first basket of the game at the 29-second mark on a layup to give the Lady Wildcats a 2-1 lead.
The Lady Rams raced out to a 10-6 lead with the help of two 3-pointers by Ryan, but Marion came back on three free throws and a layup by Bayer to regain the lead 11-10.
Heinzman canned a 3 from the top of the key, but Cassandra Woods scored to tie the game at 13 with 1:42 remaining in the first quarter. The Lady Rams closed out with back-to-back baskets by Nici Rudd to take a 17-13 lead.
Marion went on an 11-3 run, ending with a steal and a basket by Bayer to take a 26-22 lead with 1:33 left in the half. Bria Meyer sank a three to cut the lead top one. Cosby stole the ball out of the hands of Annibelle Harrison at mid-court and scored with 11.8 seconds left to give Marion a 28-25 lead at the half.
Marion jumped out to a six-point lead with 3:33 left in the third quarter. But a jumper by Madeline Keele, a 3-pointer by Heinzman and a pull-up jumper by Ryan gave the Lady Rams a 40-39 lead with 55 seconds left. Bayer hit a jumper from the right side 21 seconds later to give Marion a 41-40 lead at the end of the third quarter.