MARION — Coming close is one thing. Winning is a whole different animal, one Marion may have finally tamed in the South Seven Conference Friday night.

Taking down the league’s hottest team, the Wildcats overcame foul trouble with a gritty performance that resulted in a 60-58 double overtime decision over Cahokia at Cuss Wilson Gym.

In winning for just the second time in eight conference games, Marion upped its overall mark to 15-9 with balanced scoring, tough defense and some help from the Comanches’ inability to convert at the foul line.

Freshman Jackson Connor tallied 10 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter, while Jacob Schmid added 14, including two free throws with 33.6 seconds left in the second OT for a 59-56 lead. Justin Shadowens finished with 12, sinking a foul shot with 10.2 ticks on the clock to make it a two-point edge.

Cahokia (16-8, 6-2) got a clean look at a corner 3 from Jakorey Davis for the win, but it banged off the rim. Shadowens batted the loose ball all the way to the other end of the floor to prevent the Comanches from getting an offensive board as time expired.

“I’m proud of these guys, how hard they played and how hard they worked in practice this week,” Wildcats coach Dave Brown said. “That really set the tone for us. This was truly a team win.”

It was a well-timed bounceback win for Marion after bitter four-point losses last week at Cahokia and Mount Vernon in which it led with four minutes left before failing to close both games out.

Coming off a 26-point rout of defending Class 3A champ Belleville Althoff – a good team even without Saint Louis signee Jordan Goodwin (shoulder) – the Comanches led most of the way behind 18 points from 6-6 senior Thomas Bell and 10 from Elijah Rice.

But Cahokia was brutal at the foul line, making just 15-of-29, including 8-of-18 in the fourth quarter and the two overtimes. By contrast, the Wildcats were a solid 14-of-20, going 8-of-10 after regulation.

“One thing I looked at film that I wanted to get corrected was effort and body language,” Brown said. “It was a heck of a lot better than the other night.”

There’s no time for Marion to bask in the glory of perhaps its best win of the season, as it visits Meridian Saturday night for a tasty non-conference matchup.

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