MARION — The lone senior provided the spark in the first half and the freshman standout helped the Marion High School girls basketball team pull out a 45-41 non-conference victory over a scrappy Gallatin County squad Monday night at Cuss Wilson Gymnasium.
Jordan Turner, who was playing in just her fourth game after missing the early portion of her senior season due to a knee surgery in late October, scored seven points in the second quarter to help Marion go into the break with a one-point lead.
Turner is not only the team's only senior but one of just two players with extended returning varsity experience for the Lady Wildcats, who moved to 4-8 with the victory. Sophomore Karris Rhine ran the point while Turner was still recovering and now plays on the wing.
"It's nice to have her back in," said Marion coach Mike Manfredo. "She can control our offense very well and puts Karris in a better position for her, offensively, where she doesn't have to handle the ball as much."
Marion's freshman standout, Jerzy Bittle, had just two free throws in the first half but scored the rest of her game-high 16 points after the break, including nine in the third quarter when the Lady Wildcats led by as many as six points.
The last of the game's 12 lead changes came in that third period on consecutive buckets by Bittle and Rhine that put Marion ahead to stay at 23-20.
You have free articles remaining.
Gallatin County, which had won four straight and six of its last seven games, stayed within striking distance thanks to three 3-pointers from Carly Foster in the fourth quarter, but couldn't catch up to the Lady Wildcats.
"We definitely didn't come out and play like we should've played," said Lady Hawks coach Tiffany Sauls, whose team dropped to 8-6. "We had a really good week last night but tonight we were a completely different ballclub. I don't know if they even got off the bus. We had homecoming on Friday and we gave them Saturday and Sunday off and it really showed tonight."
Foster finished with 15 points, while Audrey Jackson had 14 and Mackenzie Russell dropped in 10 for Gallatin County, which was coming off wins over Goreville and Carmi-White County.
"We just didn't play basketball," Sauls said. "We didn't play the game we've been playing the last couple of weeks. We had been doing really well. But we'll go back to work tomorrow and try to get better."
Alexis Hutchcraft, another impressive freshman who has worked her way into Marion's starting lineup, added 10 points and Turner finished with eight. Gracie Connor chipped in six for the Lady Wildcats.
"I'm just glad the clock ran out," Manfredo said. "That's a nice team. They may be a 1A team but they're very well-coached and very well-schooled. Their defense gave us a lot of trouble early. We were a little bit confused and in different positions than normal. Our girls adjusted and got a few shots to go down."