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Lady Cats ousted in regional opener

  • Marion's McKenzie Orange is grabbed by Mt. Vernon's Nici Rudd during Monday night's game at the Benton 3A Regional.

    Marion's McKenzie Orange is grabbed by Mt. Vernon's Nici Rudd during Monday night's game at the Benton 3A Regional.
    All photos by Justin Walker

By Justin Walker
updated: 2/12/2019 2:38 AM

BENTON -- The Marion High School girls basketball team had its season end with a 44-27 loss to Mt. Vernon in the first round of the Benton 3A Regional on Monday night at Rich Herrin Gymnasium.

Marion finished with a 12-19 record, with one of the wins and three of the losses coming against Mt. Vernon.

The Lady Rams scored the game's first seven points before Marion's Daishen Wolaver hit a 3-pointer. And they led 15-6 after two baskets from Nici Rudd, but the Lady Wildcats got two free throws from Robyn Thomas and a putback from Jackie Drury to cut the margin to 15-10 at halftime.

Marion was close despite a rash of turnovers and misses, partly due to Mt. Vernon using a physical defense to offset the Lady Cats using a three-guard offense.

And when Margaux Bruce hit a baseline jumper for the first points of the third quarter, Marion was within 15-12 and appeared to have figured out the style problem.

McKenzie Orange had a chance to bring Marion even closer but missed two free throws, then Mt. Vernon's Annibelle Harrison drilled two 3-pointers to start a 10-0 run that the Lady Cats couldn't erase.

Brooklynn Kelley had five points around a coast-to-coast layup by Rudd as the Lady Rams pushed the lead to 32-16. Marion's fortunes got worse as Wolaver missed a bonus chance and point guard Jordan Turner picked up her fifth foul with 5:10 still remaining.

Marion senior Quinisha Emanuel scored four points while with the reserves in the final 2-1/2 minutes against Mt. Vernon's starters that remained on the floor until the final buzzer.

Kelley was the game's only player to reach double figures with 13 points. Rudd and Harrison both had eight.

Wolaver led Marion with seven points. Emanuel, fellow senior Orange and Drury all had four, while Bruce and Maegan Dillon both had three and Thomas had two.

Marion's third senior, Lauryn Kadela, did not play due to a leg injury.

Herrin slipped past Salem, 41-40, in Monday's other game for the right to face Olney Richland County in a battle of Tigers in Tuesday's second semifinal game.

At the Carbondale Regional, the host Terriers blasted Murphysboro, 51-20, to advance to the semifinals against Carterville. The other semifinal there features Centralia against Massac County.

The winners of Tuesday's games meet Thursday for regional championships.