DES MOINES — This time was going to be different for Marion boys' basketball.
The Indians weren't coming to Des Moines just to give their best effort and take home a participation trophy. They really, truly believed they were going to make noise at this boys’ state basketball tournament.
Unfortunately the best-effort, participation-trophy pattern continued. Marion led the majority of its Class 3A quarterfinal Tuesday afternoon against Oskaloosa but went scoreless over the final 4:27 and lost a heartbreaker, 51-49.
“It is what it is at this point,” said Marion Coach Mike Manderscheid said. “I’m proud of our kids, proud of their effort. It was a real gutsy effort on our part. It’s disappointing, but it’s not from lack of effort, it’s not from lack of game planning. We just didn’t make a play or two down the stretch when we needed to. That I can take, that’s the way it goes.
“There are nights when you are going to win ugly, and there are going to be nights where you probably lose pretty. We might have lost pretty tonight.”
Marion (16-6) was a heavy, heavy underdog last year at state when it lost in the quarterfinals to Cedar Rapids Xavier and wasn’t favored here, either, as the sixth seed going against the No. 3. But you and they knew they had a chance despite being undersized and going against a team from Oskaloosa (17-5) with two Division I college big guys in Cole Henry and Xavier Foster.
Henry is 6-foot-10 and going to Northern Iowa, Foster 7-foot and on most big-time college programs’ radar. Marion’s tallest starter, contrarily, was 6-3 Trevor Paulsen, its next-tallest starter 6-1 Mason Rahe.
Which had to make it maddening that 11 of Oskaloosa’s 20 field goals in the game came from distance, including back-to-backers from reserve Iszac Schultz and Rian Yates that provided the winning points. It was a Yates trey that brought Osky into the lead with 3:06 left, this game’s final points.
He finished with a team-high 16. Henry had 14 and Foster 13.
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“They kind of killed us down the stretch,” Paulsen said. “But our team played hard. Couldn’t be prouder of them. It obviously sucks. Second year in a row. This year, we came down expecting to win. We were going to try and make it tough on them, and I thought we did that.”
Oh, yeah, they did. A 3-pointer from Will Henricksen just before the buzzer gave Marion a 32-22 halftime lead, and Jaffer Murphy’s bucket off an offensive rebound gave the Indians a 41-39 lead going to the fourth. Murphy had a game-high 16 points.
Marion called a timeout with 43 seconds left and the ball, worked the clock down but couldn’t get anything remotely good on its last possession. With Foster lurking in the paint to knock anything on the inside away (he had seven blocks), Osky was able to pressure Marion’s shooters on the perimeter.
Oskaloosa almost came up with steals twice, and Rahe had to settle for a desperation 3 with four seconds left that Henry got a piece of, the ball falling well short of the hoop.
“We needed to get a bucket, and we didn’t,” Henricksen said. “That’s a play you work for all season, and we came up short.”
“We were trying to run something, but they were pressuring us hard,” Murphy said. “We didn’t expect that pressure. We kind of panicked, got a couple of loose balls back. But I just feel like at the end, we didn’t run what we wanted to.”
Believe it or not, Marion outrebounded Oskaloosa, 28-27. Half of Osky’s shots came from distance and it shot only two free throws, Henry missing both.
Marion had 10 more points in the paint, which is pretty incredible.
“We just didn’t make a play down the stretch,” Manderscheid said.
AT WELLS FARGO ARENA
MARION (49): Mason Rahe 0-4 0-0 0, Trevor Paulsen 7-8 0-0 14, Matthew Brase 1-2 0-0 3, Jaffer Murphy 7-13 0-2 16, Will Henricksen 4-13 0-0 10, Austin Prier 0-0 0-0 0, Connor Whalen 0-1 4-4 4, Owen Puk 0-4 0-0 0, Gage Franck 1-3 0-0 2. Totals 20-48 4-6 49.
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OSKALOOSA (51): Rian Yates 5-10 0-0 15, Cole Henry 7-16 0-2 14, Xavier Foster 5-12 0-0 13, Tyler Miller 0-1 0-0 0, Austin Hafner 2-6 0-0 6, Iszac Schultz 1-1 0-0 3. Totals 20-46 0-2 51.
Halftime — Marion 32, Oskaloosa 22. 3-point goals — Marion 5-17 (Brase 1-2, Murphy 2-4, Henricksen 2-5, Rahe 0-2, Puk 0-2, Franck 0-2), Oskaloosa 11-23 (Hafner 2-6, Yates 5-9, Foster 3-7, Schultz 1-1). Rebounds — Marion 29 (Paulsen 8), Oskaloosa 27 (Henry 12). Total fouls — Marion 4, Oskaloosa 8. Fouled out — None. Assists — Marion 12 (Rahe 3), Oskaloosa 12 (Henry 6). Turnovers — Marion 7, Oskaloosa 8.
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