BENTON — Basketball is at heart a make-or-miss game. You make shots, you usually win games. You miss shots, you normally lose games.
One doesn’t need to be a hoophead to figure out what shooting 13-of-46 from the field gets you.
Marion found out the hard way Saturday at the Rich Herrin Classic, finishing a lost weekend with a 59-42 defeat to Mount Carmel in Rich Herrin Gym.
After falling 42-39 Friday night at South Seven rival Cahokia on a buzzer-beating stepback 3-pointer, the Wildcats (15-9) lost for the second time in less than 24 hours. They couldn’t quite figure out a long, physical defense, making only 28.3 percent from the field, including an unsightly 3-of-18 from the 3-point line.
Meanwhile, the Golden Aces (14-10) looked like a team ready to make another long postseason run like they did last March, when they played for the Class 2A title. Three players reached double figures, including forward Austin Rager, who displayed a nice mid-range game to go along with good post moves in scoring a game-high 23 points.
Bret Doan added 12 – all on 3-pointers – and Brayden Stipp hit for 10 points. Jackson Marcotte, a 6-7 senior who has verbally committed to play football at Wyoming, contributed seven points in short bursts off the bench. It was Marcotte’s third game in his return from a torn ACL in July.
Both teams were mirror images defensively, using their length to set up in a zone and make the opponent shoot over them. Mount Carmel was able to land the first blow with 3s from Stipp and Doan late in the first quarter, giving it a 12-7 lead.
Meanwhile, Marion consistently fired and fell back to play defense. It made only four field goals in the first half, shooting 16.7 percent. It got a few good looks, but wasn’t able to gain any traction in the first half and trailed 27-15 at intermission.
The Wildcats made their one run to start the third quarter. Terrell Henderson converted a layup, Jaden Lacy stole and scored, and David Fletcher hit a layup. When Justin Saddoris drilled a 3 from the right wing at the 5:57 mark, Marion was suddenly within 29-24.
After a Jackson Conner free throw cut the deficit to four, the Wildcats’ pressure almost forced a turnover about four different times on the Golden Aces’ next possession. But Stipp found a driving lane for a layup that kicked off an 11-0 run which erased all the good Marion did in the previous three minutes. The fourth quarter was basically a formality.
Saddoris tallied 18 points for the Wildcats.