Marauders take down Bearcats | Girls basketballHezekiah scores 28 points to lead Mariner to 56-43 win
Four days after a sluggish start proved costly in a loss to Monroe, Mariner came out strong and kept the pressure on the Bearcats in the rematch.
Junior guard Hannah Hezekiah scored a game-high 28 points to lead the Marauders to a key 56-43 victory over the Bearcats in a Wesco 4A girls basketball game Jan. 18 at Mariner High School.
Junior Denisa Grebovic scored 14 points and Zaria Smith added 10 for the Marauders, who took a 12-7 lead after the first period and then added to their 20-16 halftime advantage with a 17-10 effort in the third quarter.
In a 56-39 loss to Monroe on Jan.14, Mariner fell behind 16-8 in the first quarter and then was outscored 15-3 in the third quarter.
“We stress that the first four minutes coming out of each half is probably the most important part of the game,” Mariner coach Corey Gibb said. “It kind of sets the tone for the rest of the half.”
“Saturday we were kind of off our routine. We came out really slow,” Hezekiah said. “Today we came out with a lot of energy and we played way better defense than we played on Saturday.”
Gibb said that defense was the difference in the second game with the Bearcats, especially on Monroe’s 3-point shooters.
“We really focused the last couple of days on defense and positioning,” he said. “It was aggressive – knees bent, hands out. We made it a point to close out to their 3-point shooters with a hand out. We were trying to contest every 3-point shot and they did get some because they are going to. But it was much better than playing at their gym when we had our hands down when we closed out.”
The Marauders also were executing on offense in the rematch, connecting on 54 percent of their shots as opposed to only 24 percent in the first meeting.
“We really ran our plays today and when we run our plays, we score,” Hezekiah said. “We just kept moving the ball. … We played more as a team.
“This was an important game to win. We knew we had to take care of business.
The first game with Monroe came a day after Mariner lost 85-54 to Glacier Peak. Gibb said that the Marauders played well against the Grizzlies and there might have been a little bit of a letdown against the Bearcats.
“We came out flat from the beginning,” he said of the Jan. 14 contest against Monroe.
A 50-49 loss to Mount Vernon on Jan. 20 dropped Mariner (4-5 in the league, 7-8 overall) into a tie with Jackson (4-5, 6-9) for fourth place in the league. The top six teams in the league advance to the district tournament.
“We feel like we’re in a good position now,” Hezekiah said. “I think we need to focus most on defense and having a lot of energy and talking on defense.”
Hezekiah scored 19 points and Smith added 15 points for Mariner, which was outscored 25-14 in the second quarter by Mount Vernon.
Gibb told his players how crucial each game is at this point of the regular season.
“Each game is important,” he said. “We have to make sure we give it our best effort and control the things we can control, which is our effort.”