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Patriot girls top Briarcrest Christian


Marion gets big game from Cheers in road win over Saints

By Chuck Livingston

Marion School District

Marion sophomore wing Jada Cheers rose high and corralled a rebound over two Briarcrest Christian Lady Saints players. Cheers sped back the other way on offense, accelerating past defenders as she approached the paint.

She got into the lane and finished a layup, drawing cheers from the Fidelity Bank Arena crowd and her own bench.

Cheers’ effort was exemplified Tuesday night, as she and her Marion teammates outscored Briarcrest Christian 64-40 to improve to 2-1 overall in 2023-2024.

Marion shot 57 percent from the field and managed to hold Briarcrest Christian to a chilly 25 percent from the floor. The Lady Patriots outrebounded the Lady Saints 41-18, including 11 offensive caroms.

“We got out tonight and played well pretty much in all areas,” said Marion coach Shunda Johnson. “We are starting to understand and run our offense, and our defense is coming around. I thought we had fun tonight playing, and that’s a really good sign.”

Marion senior point guard Ny’Asia Jackson led all scorers with 18 points and four assists, while junior Z’Kya Cheers added 16 points and Jada Cheers hit 10 points. Junior Joniya Lewis led the Lady Pats with seven rebounds, including three on the offensive backglass, while Mariyah Rucks added five.

Madeline Lawrence topped Briarcrest with 14 points, while Hallie Turner hit for 6.

The first period hosted a back-and-forth affair with six lead changes, the last of which went Marion’s way when Jackson hit Jada Cheers for a layup late in the period for an 11-9 Patriot lead after a quarter.

A Lilly Jones jump shot tied the score at 11 early in the second stanza, but that kicked off an 11-0 Marion run that helped the Lady Pats claim a 22-11 lead.

“I thought that’s where the defense really took it up,” said Johnson. “We were in position and really guarded well.

Forced a few turnovers, which is always good, but we just played good, sound defense there.”

The run began with a Jackson runner and when Z’Kya Cheers scored a layup, the Saints called for time.

The stoppage did little to deter the hosts, however, as Mariyah Rucks scored in the paint, Jackson canned a threepointer, and when Jackson hit Lewis for a layup, Marion had

See PATS, page A10 PATS

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its first double-digit lead (22-11) with 2:37 left in the second.

Briarcrest rallied to get within 22-17 from there, but Marion took a 24-17 lead to the halftime lockers when Joniya Lewis beat the buzzer with a layup.

Marion hit the floor in the second half with momentum, making its first two shots, the first of which was a Z’Kya Cheers triple, followed by a Jada Cheers rebound that she pushed up in transition and turned into a layup for a 29-17 lead with 5:42 left in the third.

A 9-0 Lady Patriot run put the contest out of reach, starting when Madison Glaspie split a pair of free throws, Jada Cheers hit a pair, Jackson scored in the paint, Cheers hit two more charities, and Z’Kya Cheers capped off when she scored on an offensive rebound following her own miss, and Marion led 43-26 after three quarters.

Jackson hit three-pointers on two of Marion’s first three possessions of the fourth quarter to give Marion its first 20-point lead.

“I’m proud of the effort tonight, and I like how smart we were,” said Johnson. “We are still figuring out some things, but we are closer all the time.”


The Marion girls return to action on Friday, Dec., 8 at Hutchinson School in Memphis, Tennessee. The junior varsity girls contest will tip at 4:30 p.m., followed by the varsity game.

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