MARION — Facing a second-half deficit against a young, upset-minded team, the Marion Indians turned up the pressure.
Suddenly that young team became uncomfortable and No. 5 Marion had a double-digit lead and a spot in the Class 3A substate finals.
The Indians outscored Waverly-Shell Rock 24-8 in the fourth quarter Thursday night for a 56-43 substate semifinal win at Marion High School. They’ll face Center Point-Urbana (17-6) for a state tournament berth at 6:30 p.m. Monday at the U.S. Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids.
Will Henricksen’s 3-pointer gave Marion (19-4) a 40-38 lead and sparked a decisive 11-0 run, but it was defense that made the difference.
“We just cranked up the energy,” Henricksen said. “As the game goes on, teams get tired. We got to another level and that’s what changed the game.”
What had been easy drives and open passes for the Go-Hawks (12-10) in a third quarter that saw them lead by as much as seven became intense ball pressure and deflections. Six-foot-7 center Caleb Burks scored a game-high 17 points, but his and-one dunk resulted in his final points and gave the Go-Hawks their last lead of the night early in the fourth.
“They run a lot of action offensively that makes it tough to cover a 6-7 guy, a really dynamic player,” Marion Coach Pete Messerli said. “The team defense mentality that we have, that everybody does their job, everybody helps each other — when all five guys on the court are acting as one, we’re able to make plays and get stops.”
It helps when one of those five guys is Jaffer Murphy. The senior guard came away with eight steals to go with his team-high 14 points, including a steal and breakaway three-point play in the fourth quarter to put the game away for good.
Marion held WSR leading scorer Hogan Hansen, a sophomore guard who came in averaging 16.2 points, to four. The Go-Hawks, who started just one senior, turned it over 19 times.
“Once we put that pressure on, many teams don’t expect that,” Murphy said. “We were just able to work off of that.”
The game was tied at 18 at halftime and WSR led 32-25 at one point in the third.
Gage Franck got the Indians going offensively when he banked in a 3-pointer and was fouled, hitting the free throw to convert a four-point play and cut the lead to 35-32 after three. Marion scored the first five points of the fourth quarter then, after Burks’ three-point play, took complete control. The Indians hit 13 of 14 free throws, most in crunch time.
Franck finished with 11 points, while Connor Whalen had 12 and grabbed eight rebounds. Henricksen scored 13, hitting 3 of 7 3-point attempts.
WAVERLY-SHELL ROCK (43): Keaton Farmer 2-7 2-2 7, Ben Heyer 1-1 0-0 2, Hogan Hansen 1-5 2-2 4, Jacob Kruse 2-5 0-0 6, Caleb Burks 8-13 1-3 17, Brady Ramker 1-1 2, Ethan Flege 0-1 0-0 0, Cole Hotz 2-4 0-0 4, Germaine Sagbo 0-0 1-2 1. Totals 17-42 6-9 43.
MARION (56): Brayson Laube 2-5 0-0 6, Jaffer Murphy 4-9 5-5 14, Connor Wahlen 6-11 0-0 12, Gage Franck 3-9 4-5 11, Will Henricksen 3-11, 4-4 13, Garret Wagner 0-1 0-0 0, Lucas Unsen 0-0 1-2 1. Totals 18-46 13-14 56.
Halftime: Marion 18, Waverly-Shell Rock 18. 3-point goals: Waverly-Shell Rock 3-17 (Farmer 1-5, Hansen 0-5, Kruse 2-5, Flege 0-1, Hotz 0-1), Marion 7-19 (Laube 2-4, Murphy 1-4, Franck 1-4, Henricksen 3-7). Team fouls: Waverly-Shell Rock 20, Marion 11. Fouled out: Heyer. Rebounds: Waverly-Shell Rock 24 (Burks 8), Marion 18 (Whalen 8). Assists: Waverly-Shell Rock 7 (Heyer 4), Marion 7 (Franck 4). Steals: Waverly-Shell Rock 7 (Burks 4), Marion 10 (Murphy 8). Turnovers: Waverly-Shell Rock 19, Marion 15.
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