CARBONDALE — Boston Ziegler’s half court 3-pointer at the first half buzzer proved to be the first nail in the coffin as Marion rolled past Carbondale, 60-44, in a rescheduled South Seven Conference boys basketball game Saturday afternoon.
“I was trying to get to the rim, but there wasn’t enough time left so I actually tried to drive into the guy to draw a foul, but I got the shot up,” Ziegler said. “You take enough shots they will eventually go in. In fact, I had taken around 10 half court shots in my high school career and this was the first time the ball went in.”
The game was originally scheduled for Friday night, but a winter storm began during the afternoon forcing a postponement.
“Take it for what it’s worth, but I don’t think we’ve lost a Saturday game all season,” said Marion coach Gus Gillespie.
Marion (17-12, 2-7 South Seven) led almost the entire game except for when the score was tied 2-2 at the 49 seconds mark. At the end of the second quarter, the Terriers cut the Marion lead from eight points with 4:39 remaining to just one after a pair of Davaris Macklin free throws with 2.3 seconds left.
“This win started three weeks ago,” Gillespie said. “Right after the Centralia game something just changed in our practice habits and maybe getting a bit more grit to us. I thought we played very hard and one of the best defensive game I’ve been a part of in a very long time. The keys were Ziegler making that last second shot and then we improved the lead and Carbondale did not score.”
Ziegler launched his shot from the mid-court line just before the buzzer sounded and it bounced up before falling back down and in to give the Wildcats a 27-23 lead at the half.
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Marion came out of intermission with renewed vigor extending its lead to 10 points in the first 2:58 and eventually to 15 points heading into the fourth quarter on a jumper by Rayzhaun Bardo with 1.9 second remaining.
“The third quarter was the dagger for us,” said Carbondale coach Jim Miller. “We couldn’t get anything going offensively. It all started with the defense. We just couldn’t get stops.”
The Terriers made just one basket in the third quarter, going 1-for-8 from the field, including 0-for-4 from beyond the arc. For the game, Marion shot .500 (18-of-36) from the field, including 5-of-14 from long distance while out-rebounding Carbondale 28-20. The Terriers shot only 16-of-51 overall, including 3-of-15 from the perimeter.
Marion extended its lead to 18 at the start of the fourth quarter when Jackson Connor drained a three. Connor led the game with 24 points, which included two 3-pointers and 6-of-9 from the free throw line.
Carbondale made a final run trimming the lead to nine points with 2:10 left. At that point, Gillespie called his fourth timeout of the quarter and when play resumed the Wildcats were sent to the line three and a half times making 6-of-7 with the only miss coming on a three-point play attempt by Connor at the end of a successful layup with 47 seconds remaining.
In the first quarter, with the scored tied 2-2 Marion went on a 10-5 run thanks in part to two 3-pointers by Connor and Ziegler. Carbondale cut the lead to three on a putback by Fairleigh Ward with four second left.
Marion extended its lead to eight points to open the second quarter on a Connor 3-pointer, two free throws by Ziegler followed by Bardo splitting a pair 1:50 into the second quarter.