The opening minutes of the game started as a back and forth battle. The home team Comets gained an early 5-4 lead in the first quarter. Crane’s goal of holding Marionville to under 10 points in the quarter seemed unrealistic because of the start. After losing their early lead however, Crane (15-5) went on a 16-4 run.
“With their home crowd, with it being a rivalry game they got off to a good start and we could have gotten behind early, but the fact that we were able to sustain our defensive intensity early on that was good for us,” Crane head coach Dale Lamberth said.
In that span, post man Jordan Bowling was on an offensive outburst. Bowling put up 13 points in the first quarter alone. He ended the game with a team-high 19 points. Bowling, an established presence in the paint, was able to stretch Marionville’s defense with three made 3-pointers. Guard Jake Sowell then hit a three pointer as the buzzer sounded to end the first period, Crane leading 20-9.
“Jordan Bowling to me is a man amongst boys,” Lamberth said. “When he gets off to a great start he gets locked in like he did. I thought early on, on both ends of the floor, he made the difference. To me I think he is one of the best players around in this area that not a lot of people think about. Before it is all said and done he is going to have a great career.”
The game slowed down, in tempo and scoring, significantly after the opening quarter of play. Marionville outscored Crane 9-8 in the second, but remained trailing the Pirates by 10 at the half. Crane’s offense was not in the same rhythm as it was in the first quarter, which led to turnovers. Luckily for Crane, Marionville was not opportunistic in converting those lost possessions into points.
Forward Marty Minnis was the offense for the Comets in the first half. Minnis scored 14 points in the first half, including eight of the team’s nine second-quarter points. Minnis was able to have the same influence Bowling was having for Crane, a strong inside presence who proved they can stretch a defense with three-point shooting. Minnis led all scorers with 20 points on the night.
Marionville and Minnis took the confidence they had obtained in the second period into the third, as they outscored Crane 14-8. Minnis was again the focal point of the offense, but he was not scoring near as much. Crane focused on shutting down Minnis, and as a result Geoffrey Stafford knocked down two 3s for Marionville. Heading into the final quarter of play, Marionville trailed Crane by only four points, 36-32.
“That was our one quarter where we let up defensively and it showed,” Lamberth said. “When we struggled offensively we kind of gave up on our defense.”
After allowing the Comets to position themselves for a shot at stealing what appeared was going to be a blowout for them, Crane regained their composure on both ends of the floor. Defensively, Crane allowed only five points in the fourth quarter. The lack of scoring by Marionville was detrimental to their comeback chances.
“Once we got to the fourth quarter and got to regroup we kind of all set there and said OK,” Lamberth said. “The players decided this game. I saw a lot of maturity and leadership, which I have been begging for all year.
Crane had six different players score in their 18-point quarter. Bad possessions by the Comets offensively led to many of those points by the Pirates, and ultimately the victory for Crane.
Marionville will next travel on the road to face Skyline on February 5. Crane’s next opponent will be at home against Spokane.
Crane Scoring: Jordan Bowling 19, Zach Chastain 10, Cole Walden 8, Jake Sowell 5, Bailey Moore 4, Clay Stumpff 4, Jonah Wallace 4
Marionville Scoring: Marty Minnis 20, Geoffrey Stafford 8, Lathan Kerans 4, Nate Hill 2, Ryan White 2, Derek Malcom 1