Seniors get the best looks in Marion’s win over Valley View
Three Marion seniors scored in double figures as the Patriots edged out the Blazers
Marion sophomore Detrick Reeves Jr. couldn’t have had a rougher time last Friday night against Valley View.
Battling the flu, Reeves persuaded Marion head coach Nathan Clayborn to play him against the Blazers (12-12 overall, 610 6A/5A-3 Conference). Reeves promptly rolled his ankle in the first quarter before being able to score a single basket, forcing Clayborn to sit an almost nightly 20-plus-point performance on the bench for the rest of the contest.
“He said he was fighting a little bug,” Clayborn said. “He begged me to let him play anyways but then he rolled his ankle so we had to sit him out. Yesterday, we found out, it turns out he’s got strep throat and the flu… We need him back next week. We need him towards the end of this week more than we did last week.”
Without the sophomore sensation of the floor for Marion (13-11, 7-9), it was the Patriots seniors who shouldered the workload as the Patriots squeaked out a 57-53 home-victory against Valley View.
One of those seniors, Martinez Harper who finished with a team-leading 14 points, sank a threepointer in the fourth quarter that caused the final swing in momentum, a shift in favor of the Patriots, according to Clayborn.
“Martinez Harper stepped up in the fourth quarter and hit a big three that got us the momentum and got us the lead,” Clayborn said. “When we got the lead, we stepped up defensively and when we stepped up defensively that pretty much turned it around. We got a couple stops in a row and hit a couple of big shots.”
Overall, Harper knocked down three deep-balls, all of them coming in the second half as the Marion senior turned his offensive performance on late with 12 points in the final two quarters.
While Harper controlled the wing, two other senior Patriots controlled the lowpost area, a part of the game which has been subpar for Marion this season. But, last Friday, senior Patriots Taylor Brown and Kindylen Roberts found some success, scoring 14 and 12 points respectively. A big part of their postpresence was the long absence of 6-foot-8 Valley View senior Reed Graddy. The Blazers center picked up two fouls early and was forced to sit for most of the first three quarters, helping Marion carry a 41-36 lead into the final frame.
“We got him two fouls early in the first half and they sat him out for a stretch,” Clayborn said. “Then, he came back and we put him in a pick-androll and he couldn’t move his feet that well. We were trying to find a way to get him out from under the goal because, the first time we played Valley View, he might’ve had eight blocks. We were trying to find a way to attack him and he couldn’t move his feet that well and got a couple of fouls called on him.”
The Patriots plan worked, limiting Graddy to only four points through the first three quarters. The Valley View big man made his dominating presence known in the fourth stanza, however, pumping in 14 of his game-high 18 points in the quarter. The team play of the Patriots, however, overcame Gaddy’s impressive individual performance in the last eight minutes.
“We’re just fighting,” Clayborn said. “Martinez stepped up. A lot of players stepped up and we just really turned it on defensively. We got some stops and got some easy baskets and that got us going.”
The win over Valley View splits the season series between the Blazers and the Patriots, as Valley View defeated Marion 66-63 in Marion on January 24th.
Next up for the Patriots, Marion travels to Paragould tonight to battle the Rams (9-15, 3-13) in a 7:00 p.m. tip-off. Marion defeated Paragould 92-86 in triple overtime the first time the two teams met on January 16th in Marion.
After tonight’s contest in Paragould, Marion travels home for their senior night contest against Blyetheville (13-11, 9-7) this Thursday with tip-off slated for 7:00 p.m.
By Collins Peeples