Patriots can’t complete comeback against Titans

Patriots can’t complete comeback against Titans

Marion orchestrated a 2717 run in the third quarter, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the Patriots first half struggles

sports@theeveningtimes.com

Despite shooting 57 percent from the floor in the second half, the Marion Patriots (14-15 overall) fell at home to the Jacksonville Titans (14-15) 78-73 last Saturday in the third round of the 6A-East Conference playoffs.

Marion got off to a dismal start, sinking just 10 of 31 shots in the first half and digging themselves in a 4225 whole by the time the halftime buzzer sounded.

Patriots head coach Nathan Clayborn says his team simply couldn’t overcome the slow play in the first half.

“It’s hard but you put yourself in that situation when you get down 20,” Clayborn said. “So, we’ve got to do a better job of fighting in the first half. I thought we did a real good job of fighting in the second half. We played smarter. We’re just a work in progress. We got to get ready for next week.”

Not making matters any easier for the Patriots in the early going, Jacksonville shot 57 percent from the field in the first two stanzas, including five threepointers, with three of those deep balls coming from senior shooting guard H.D. Martin.

“We couldn’t find that little 14 (Martin) shooting,” Clayborn said. “We kept losing him. We knew he was the shooter but kept losing him.”

However, after Clayborn reminded his team that this was their last game scenario before the Patriots enter the state tournament, Marion came out in the third quarter looking like a completely different group. The Patriots blazed the nets to a tune of 12-for-16 from the field in the third stanza, pulling within five points of the Titans (57-52) heading into the final frame.

“We got to work,” Clayborn said. “We got to condition. This is what’s going to get us ready for next week and, if this is how we go into next week, we’ll be out in the first round. So, the third quarter we regrouped. They regrouped in (the locker room) and we came out and executed and played the game.”

Marion went on to pull within a single possession, 67-64, of the Titans when Patriots senior Taylor Brown converted a layup with 3:48 remaining in the fourth quarter. But, a fivepoint Titans run put Jacksonville up 71-67 with 1:46 left in the contest, sealing the victory and the five-seed in the state tournament for the Titans.

Leading the Patriots in scoring, Marion sophomore Detrick Reeves pumped in 23 points. Marion got three other double-digit scoring performances as Tristian Haymon pushed through 12 points and Kindylen Roberts and Makyi Boyce each contributed 10 points. Marino senior Martinez Harper chipped in nine points, all coming off threepointers in the opening quarter.

Haymon led the Patriots on the glass, hauling in nine boards and Boyce helped keep the ball hot, dishing out four assists.

Overall the Patriots committed five less turnovers than the Titans (16-11) but three miscues in the final two minutes cost Marion desperately needed possessions.

The loss drops the Patriots to the six-seed in the 6A state tournament. Marion is slated to kick off action in the state dance against Sheridan (15-14) on March 1st at 2:30 p.m.

All Arkansas 6A-East Boys Basketball State Tournament games will be hosted at West Memphis’ Lehr Arena and, despite playing in the Patriots rivals gym, Clayborn does take solace in the fact that his team will be playing close to home.

“You get to sleep in your own bed,” Clayborn said. “So, you’ll be ready. We’ll be ready come Thursday.”

By Collins Peeples

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