By Brennan Stebbins (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
CARTHAGE, Mo. – Every time Liberal got close, Marionville had an answer.
When the Bulldogs took a lead in the second quarter, the Comets went on a 20-7 run.
When they pulled within five points in the third, Marionville scored 15 of the next 17.
And when Liberal got back within single digits in the fourth quarter, the Comets put on a clinic at the free throw line.
It ended in a 63-47 Marionville win in a Class 2 sectional Wednesday night at Carthage High School.
“We just continued to battle,” Marionville coach Ted Young said. “We’ve been down before and showed a little toughness from our guys to bounce back and make the runs.”
Marionville led 28-20 at halftime and by as many as 10 points in the third quarter before Liberal made it 30-25. That marked a turning point; Liberal scored on just one of its next 19 possessions and Marionville ended the third with a buzzer-beater three pointer by Dominick Clevenger, one of five seniors on the roster.
“That was a big three by Dominick,” Young said. “That kind of helped us get going. I think what they do kind of got us in a hurry and when we were patient enough or moving the ball well enough we were able to get good looks. When they got us in a hurry we weren’t.”
Clevenger’s three gave the Comets a 38-27 lead. They led by 18 points in the fourth quarter before Liberal mounted one last charge.
Senior Weston Sprenkle capped a 9-0 Liberal run with a three pointer at the 2:39 mark to make it 47-38.
Marionville, meanwhile, made just three field goals in the fourth quarter. The Comets did the rest of their damage at the free throw line where they shot 90 percent, making 18-of-20 attempts. They made 25-of-30 in the game.
Senior Gavin Stanton was a perfect 8-for-8.
“We seem to be able to make them when we need to make them, and we needed every single one of them,” Young said.
“I don’t want to say the moment got too big for us, but we just played tight and in playing tight offensively I think defensively we were kind of out of position sometimes,” Liberal coach Travis Walton said. “That’s kind of the downfall. We gave up some easy baskets there late in the first half and they carried that momentum over to the second half.”
“Marionville made us uncomfortable and in that fourth quarter we really fought to get that lead back to single digits, it was just by that time we were kind of spent,” he said.
Senior Joshua Goodman led Marionville with 21 points and Stanton added 14. The team’s five seniors scored 55 of 63 points. Young said that’s the way it should be this time of year.
“Your seniors are the ones that lead you and they’ve been leaders all year,” he said. “The young kids, we’ve had games they’ve had their moments. We’re still trying to get them to the next step but we do lean heavily on our seniors.”
Junior Colten Slinker and senior Weston Sprenkle each scored 13 points for Liberal, which finishes 17-12.
Marionville, 22-7, will face a 25-4 Greenwood team in the quarterfinals at noon Saturday in Republic.
Greenwood defeated Hartville 73-71.