Mariner pulls away from Mount Vernon | Girls basketball

Senior Hezekiah scores 29 points to lead Marauders
By David Robert Pan | Jan 24, 2018
Photo by: David R Pan Mariner’s Nia Hawkins is guarded by Mount Vernon’s Miranda Johnson and Olivia Kuipers (right) during a Wesco 4A game Friday, Jan. 19, at Mariner High School. The Marauders won 67-45.

Mariner’s shots started falling and a switch to a zone defense produced the desired results, as the Marauders pulled away from a stubborn Mount Vernon team in the second half.

Senior Hannah Hezekiah scored a game-high 29 points and freshman Taliyah Clark added 19 points to lead Mariner to a 67-45 victory over the Bulldogs in a Wesco 4A girls basketball game Friday, Jan. 19, at Mariner High School.

After Mount Vernon outscored Mariner 15-8 in the second quarter to take a 29-28 lead into halftime, Marauders coach Corey Gibb and his staff decided that Mariner’s man-to-man defense wasn’t working out the way they hoped it would.

“I really don’t like playing a zone,” Gibb said. “But at that point we had to mix it up because our man was lacking some intensity … We had to make a change somewhere. We weren’t very happy with our effort in the first half on defense.”

Clark agreed that the Marauders’ defense wasn’t working well in the first two quarters.

“We were getting beat too much and were fouling too much,” she said.

Hezekiah’s hot hands helped jump start the Mariner offense in the third quarter. The Mariner senior hit a 3-pointer to start the period and give her team a 31-29 lead. The Bulldogs moved some of their players out toward Hezekiah in an attempt to better defend against her.

That opened up the inside for 5-foot-11 junior post Yuni Septimo-Ruiz, who made back-to-back baskets to extend the Marauders’ advantage to 35-29. Septimo-Ruiz scored all nine of her points in the second half.

“It helped that Hannah had a couple of deep shots, so that kind of sucked them out and it left Yuni wide open,” Gibb said. “Hannah, being the team player that she is, was able to make a couple of really nice passes and Yuni was able to convert them. That was fun to watch.”

Clark added that the Marauders hoped to take advantage of Septimo-Ruiz’s height over her Mount Vernon counterparts. The Bulldogs did not have any player taller than 5-8.

“We wanted to make sure every open look that she had, we were giving it to her because they were just too focused on us on the outside because Hannah Hezekiah was hitting shots,” Clark said. “They were more focused on the 3-point line. It opened up the inside.”

The Bulldogs, however, battled back and actually took a 36-35 lead on a basket by Miranda Johnson and a 2-point shot and 3-pointer by Taryn Rouw midway through the third quarter.

Mariner then retook the lead, 41-36, on back-to-back 3-point plays by Hezekiah and Clark. Mount Vernon’s Johnson responded with two consecutive baskets to cut the Mariner lead to 41-40. The Marauders then closed out the third quarter with a basket by Clark, a free throw by Septimo-Ruiz and a putback basket by Hezekiah.

A 9-1 run at the start of the fourth quarter extended Mariner’s lead to 55-41 and the Marauders outscored the Bulldogs 21-5 in the final period.

“We just wanted to play team basketball instead of just one-on-one stuff,” Clark said. “We just knew that we needed to space out and move the ball around.”

Gibb liked what he saw in the second half.

“I thought we played much better as a group,” he said. “We had some nice passes and we were able to convert.”

Mariner was coming off a 62-53 loss to Monroe on Tuesday, Jan. 16. Clark scored 23 points and Hezekiah added 16. But what did the Marauders in was defense.

The lack of defensive intensity is an on-going issue for Mariner.

“We’ve had a lot of conversation about it as a team,” Gibb said. “We’re just trying to get better and just keep that effort consistent.”

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