TIFFIN — The box score will say Marion won the game in the third quarter.
In reality, it was likely won in the second quarter.
The Indians used a 21-3 run in the third quarter to put away No. 14 Clear Creek Amana, eventually winning 54-36 in a Class 4A girls’ basketball regional semifinal contest Saturday night.
Marion (14-8) advances to a 7 p.m. regional final on Tuesday at No. 4 DeWitt Central (15-2), a 75-31 winner over Washington (Iowa) on Saturday.
Marion Coach Josh Claypool took a gamble early in the second quarter when his two top interior defenders, Ella Bockenstedt and Ella Van Weelden each picked up a second foul and spent the rest of the half on the bench.
“Our bench was tremendous tonight,” Claypool said. “We get real small, real quick without them on the floor. It’s always a debate and it is not a hard-fast rule to not go back in with two fouls, but we try to ride it as long as we can and we actually closed the gap with them out.”
The Clippers, who finished at 17-5, built a five-point lead in the second quarter, but freshman Ava Atwood hit a pair of tough inside shots and a late 3-pointer to draw Marion to just a 19-18 deficit at the break.
“She’s been playing really well lately,” said Claypool of Atwood. “She stays after every day and works on her shot. Her shots have been falling a lot lately and she’s playing with a lot of confidence.”
As mentioned, it was all the visitors in the third quarter. Van Weelden, who will play next year at Valparaiso, scored 10 in the quarter, including a pair of 3-point shots. Molly Dune, Sadie Struchen and Grace Stephenson also hit from beyond the arc as the lead was 39-22.
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Ironically, CCA didn’t hit a field goal in the third quarter and Marion actually scored all 15 of its fourth-quarter points from the line as the Clippers were forced to foul in an attempt to get back in the game.
Claypool thought Marion’s defense was strong all night.
“(CCA) is a load down low,” he said of the Clippers inside game. “They hurt us there last year and they seem to hurt us there every time we play them. (Calia) Clubb is a really good player. Our focus was to keep the ball out of the middle as much as we could and I think we did a pretty good job doing that.”
Van Weelden was the only Marion player to finish in double figures with 14 points. Clubb led the Clippers with 12 before fouling out.
MARION (54): Regan Rice 0 8-10 8, Molly Dunne 1 0-0 3, Sadie Struchen 2 3-4 9, Ella Van Weelden 5 2-2 14, Ella Bockenstedt 1 3-4 5, Ava Attwood 3 0-0 7, Jenna Heinricy 1 0-0 2, Grace Stephenson 1 0-0 3, Mila Van Weelden 0 3-4 3, Stacey Sloan 0 0-0 0. Totals: 14 19-24 54.
CLEAR CREEK-AMANA (36): Whitney Traetow, 0 0-1 0, Kalin Rotzoll 1 0-0 3, Olivia Miller 1 0-0 3, Calia Clubb 3 6-14 12, Morgan Etscheidt 0 0-0 0, Reese Stockman 5 0-0 10, Emily Sly 0 0-0 0, Ava Locklear 2 1-2 5, Gabrielle Bedford 0 1-2 1, Bailey Olerich 0 0-0 0, Haley Tackaberry 0 0-0 0, Dayna Wichart 0 0-0 0. Totals: 13 8-19 36
Halftime: Clear Creek Amana 19, Marion 18. 3-point goals: Marion 7 (E. Van Weelden 2, Struchen 2, Dunne, Stephenson, Attwood), Clear Creek Amana 2 (Rotzoll, Miller). Total fouls: Marion 17, Clear Creek Amana 16. Fouled out: Clubb. Technical fouls: none