MARION — The Marion girls’ basketball team can beat you in many ways.
The Indians have several offensive weapons and can clamp down on defense as well. The state’s top-ranked Class 4A team used a little of both Tuesday night to earn a return trip to the state tournament.
Sophomore Kayba Laube scored 18 points, including four 3-point baskets and the defense kept Dubuque Wahlert from getting much inside. The end result was a dominant 68-49 victory at Marion High School.
No. 1 Marion moves to 23-0 and is the top seed in the 4A field. The Indians’ state opponent will be determined Wednesday upon completion of regional final action postponed a day because of weather concerns.
Wahlert closes its season at 8-16.
Despite the final margin, it wasn’t a vintage Marion performance according to Coach Corby Laube.
“For some reason, I think we played a little bit tight tonight,” said Coach Laube. “I think for the girls being ranked No. 1 all year, it was more of a relief than anything else to win tonight.
“The important thing is that we got it done. We got the win and are going back to the state tournament.”
Marion led from start to finish, but was never able to get comfortable until a spurt midway through the third quarter pushed the margin past 20 points.
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Tuesday’s win marked the final game in the Marion gym for a senior class that led the revival of Indians basketball. Chloe Rice and Mia Laube have been four-year regulars for Marion.
“It’s been a long build-up to this point,” said Mia Laube. “We did have an ultimate goal (of going to state) in the end and we’re really excited that it is finally here.”
Rice recalled all the hours spent in the Marion gym to reach this point.
“I don’t think that has really sunk in yet,” said Rice, who finished with 16 points. “We still have more games to play and once they are over it will probably have a lot more meaning.”
Marion just missed out on winning a state title last year and it has been a motivating factor all season.
“We have made it this far before,” said Mia Laube. “Obviously, it is important to cherish these moments. We’ve been here before, but we definitely have something bigger in mind.”
Krystal Tranel led the Golden Eagles with 16 points. Alli Kutsch added 13.