Marion girls rolling with 4th straight win
Patriots defense shines in victory over Valley View
By CHUCK LIVINGSTON
Marion School District
Shunda Johnson paused for a moment as she considered the question last Friday night following Marion’s 65-50 victory over Valley View.
Marion’s ultra-successful head coach had just watched her club force 30 Valley View turnovers and never trailed at Fidelity Bank Arena.
It was Marion’s fourth straight victory after an 0-3 start to 5A East play, and even Johnson had to search for an explanation.
“It’s almost like the lights have gone off for us,” said the coach. “It’s coming together at the right time.”
Junior point guard Ny’Asia Jackson sparked Marion’s (7-12 overall, 4-3 5A East) victory by scoring a gamehigh 21 points, logging six steals, and handing out five assists. Senior Aaliyah Taylor pumped in 13 points, while Alyse Holliman added eight points and seven rebounds.
Valley View (7-11, 1-6) sophomore Annika Wilbanks paced the Lady Blazers with 20 points and 10 rebounds while Morghan Weaver added 13 points.
“The way Ny’Asia and Aaliyah scored on the perimeter tonight was key,” said Johnson. “Them scoring on the perimeter opens up a lot for us. If they can keep that going, then that will be huge for us.”
Marion connected on 24 of its 54 field-goal attempts while Valley View managed just 15 of its 43 tries, and the Lady Pats committed just 13 turnovers. The Lady Blazers earned the rebounding edge 32-24.
The Lady Patriots connected on half of their 12 field-goal attempts in the first quarter while the Lady Blazers managed just 3 of 13 shooting and the hosts led 14-8 after the opening stanza.
Marion opened the second quarter by scoring seven of the first nine points, including a three-pointer and a steal that led to a layup by Jackson, the latter giving Marion its first double-digit lead (21-10) of the night.
Jackson pilfered two more steals and scored layups late in the first half as the Lady Pats carried a 29-17 lead to halftime.
“We decided we were going to show a couple of presses that we’ve been working on but haven’t used yet in a game,” said Johnson. “The best one was a diamond-and-one press that helped us match up a little easier.”
The teams swapped buckets until late in the third quarter when a Holliman layup sparked a 7-0 Marion run to cap the quarter. A Taylor three-pointer beat the third-quarter buzzer and Marion had its first 20-point lead of the night, 52-31 after three.
Marion took its largest lead of the night (60-36) when Taylor hit the second of her two fourth-quarter three-pointers. Valley View closed the game on a 14-4 run, including seven points from Weaver.
Following a league-wide open date on Tuesday, Marion hosts West Memphis Friday night at Fidelity Bank Arena. The 6:00 p.m. Contest will be broadcast live on MarionPatriots.com and on the Marion Patriots Activities Network mobile app.
5A East Jan. 27 Results
Marion 65, Valley View 50 Nettleton 39, Searcy 33 Paragould 40, Greene Co. Tech 29 W. Memphis 63, Batesville 37
5A East Standings
W. Memphis 7-0 Nettleton 5-2 Paragould 5-2 Marion 4-3 Greene Co. Tech 3-4 Searcy 2-5
Marion senior Jordan Johnson (10) drives past a Valley View defender during the Lady Pats’ victory last Friday night.
Photo by Londa Hamrick