MARION – The Vienna Eagles checked every box on the list.
Sound defense – check. Make free throws – check. Rebound – check.
The check marks added up to a 50-34 win over Marion Friday night as well as the championship of the Heartland Regional Medical Center Lady Cat Tip-Off.
“We did,” said Vienna coach Jamie Kerley. “All of the above. It was the best game we played yet this year. Each game has gotten a little bit better. The first game was ugly. The second game we did a little bit better, third game a little better. Tonight, we played more like we’re capable of playing.”
There were times Vienna struggled in some phases of the game, but the one constant was solid defense. Marion was never able to get on track against the Lady Eagles sticky 3-2 zone. Vienna yielded just seven field goals.
“We really struggled all night offensively with our spacing,” said Marion coach Mike Manfredo. “The kids just couldn’t adjust. We tried to make a few adjustments, nothing worked. Then, when it did work, it seemed like there was a lid on the basket.”
Vienna got off to a quick 13-3 lead. The Lady Eagles shot the ball well early. And, when they did miss, Lindsey Holhubner was there to clean up the mess. Holhubner had three offensive rebound buckets in the first quarter, and put together a conventional three-point play to start the second.
“We boarded a lot better tonight than we did any other night,” Kerley said. “I’d be surprised if we didn’t have more than 30 rebounds tonight, and a bunch of offensive boards.”
Solid free throw shooting was the third leg of the trifecta.
Alyssa Jones, who made 8-of-10 free throws in the game, made seven straight in the second quarter, pushing the Vienna lead to 27-7 at the 3:20 mark of the second quarter.
The Lady Eagles held a 31-17 lead at the half. Marion seemed to grab the momentum at times in the second half, but the Wildcats never came closer than 10 points.
A Daishen Wolaver bucket cut the Vienna lead to 41-31 with 6:33 to play, but Vienna responded with a 7-1 run to keep the Wildcats at arm’s length.
“We liked the pace of the game, especially the first half,” Kerley said. “The first half we definitely dictated the pace and that showed on the scoreboard.”
“We talked about that a lot before the game,” Manfredo said. “We were kind of a slow down team the last few years. We kind of instituted a little fast break to try to speed it up a little bit to use our athleticism, but they held the pace they wanted tonight and we couldn’t make the adjustment.”
Hohlhubner led all scorers with 22 points and Jones chipped in 14.
Abby Bayer led Marion with 12 points, going 8-of-10 from the free throw line.
In the first game of the night, Massac County used 30 points from freshmen Farrah Castleman and Cali McGraw to roll past Gallatin County 66-50.
The Patriots finished the tournament 2-2 while Gallatin County was winless.
Gallatin County trailed 36-25 at the half, and the Patriots’ depth wore the Hawks down in the second half.
In addition to the 30 points scored by the freshmen, senior Emma Korte added 16 points for the Patriots. Hailey Chubb scored 32 for Gallatin County, including a 15-of-18 effort from the free throw line. Audrey Jackson had 11 for the Hawks.
Despite Gallatin County going winless in the tournament, Chubb was named the most valuable player.