MARION — There was no fancy, shmancy defensive strategy here.
Marion didn’t throw a box-and-one at Maquoketa star Abe Becker. The Indians hedged screens but never truly double or tripled teamed the outstanding senior wing.
This was regular old man to man. Special man to man, actually.
“Our game plan was to have either me or (teammate) Trevor (Paulsen) on him as much as possible,” Marion’s Connor Whalen said Saturday afternoon, after his team held down Becker and upset Class 3A’s top-ranked team, 53-47. “Stop him from shooting 3s and have our teammates help on the drive. We really executed that well ... If he gets going, they get going. Our defense was definitely our biggest key today.”
Becker went off on the Indians in a mid-December game at Maquoketa, piling up 26 points in the Cardinals’ 61-44 win. He had little space to do much of anything here, held to nine points on 3-of-16 shooting.
Whalen came in averaging about 16 points less per game than Becker (20.1 to 4.5) but darned near matched him, scoring eight.
“Defense was the difference. Hands down,” said Marion Coach Mike Manderscheid. “We played much, much, much better defensively today. And we’ve been on a good trajectory to where we need to be, to be solid on the defensive end.”
Marion (9-4) built a 15-point lead at halftime and was up 20, 37-17, one minute into the third quarter. Maquoketa (14-1) made a spirited charge from there, getting as close as four (with the ball, no less) late in the fourth quarter.
But Paulsen hit a couple of critical free throws with 29.7 seconds left, and the Indians held on. Guard Wil Henricksen had a game-high 19 points for Marion, with Paulsen adding 12 and guard Jaffer Murphy 10.
“Last time, they kind of got us pretty good. Got a nice win on us,” Paulsen said. “This time, we had a long stretch off and have been working hard. We’ve wanted to get back to playing defense the way we did last year (when they made the state tournament). Just get better on the defensive end. I thought we did that today.”
Macklin Shanahan had 12 points and 10 rebounds for Maquoketa. He’s the glue that holds the Cardinals together, evidenced by Marion bulding its big lead when he sat out because of foul trouble.
His play, and the shooting of guard Kane Kopp helped bring Maquoketa back. Kopp added 10 points.
“They did a good job of taking stuff away from us,” Maquoketa Coach Matt Hartman said. “We didn’t make shots. We just didn’t play well. Marion was just tougher than us today.”
This was Marion’s first game in two weeks because of weather postponements. It was a good one.
“Our word for the game was ‘Energy,’” Manderscheid said. “I said ‘After two weeks, if I have to have to ask for energy, then I don’t know what to do.’ So our energy was good. Kids had great energy going in, the bench had good energy. Then when you’re playing well defensively and you get a transition (bucket) here or there, things just kind of keep building.”
MAQUOKETA (47): Abe Becker 3-16 2-2 9, Caiden Atienza 2-4 0-0 4, Macklin Shanahan 4-7 4-6 12, Connor Becker 1-6 2-4 5, Kane Kopp 3-10 2-2 10, Nicholas Ehlinger 1-4 1-2 4, Nathan Watters 1-2 1-2 3, Clayton Widel 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 15-49 12-18 47.
MARION (53): Trevor Paulsen 4-6 3-8 12, Mason Rahe 1-1 0-0 2, Will Henricksen 5-11 7-9 19, Jaffer Murphy 3-10 4-5 10, Matthew Brase 1-3 0-0 2, Gage Franck 0-1 0-0 0, Owen Puk 0-1 0-0 0, Connor Whalen 4-8 0-0 8, Austin Prier 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 18-41 14-22 53.
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Halftime — Marion 32, Maquoketa 17. 3-point goals — Maquoketa 5-25 (A. Becker 1-7, Shanahan 0-1, C. Becker 1-5, Kopp 2-9, Ehlinger 1-3), Marion 2-17 (Paulsen 0-1, Henricksen 2-7, Murphy 0-5, Brase 0-2, Franck 0-1, Puk 0-1). Rebounds — Maquoketa 33 (Shanahan 10), Marion 31 (Paulsen 11). Total fouls — Maquoketa 18, Marion 18. Fouled out — None. Turnovers — Maquoketa 15, Marion 15.
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