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Late flurry lifts Giants over Archers

GIANTS: Marion’s Josh Balfour puts up a shot in the second half of the Giants’ 62-60 comeback win over Fort Wayne South Saturday night in Bill Green Arena. Scott Hunt/shunt@chronicle-tribune.com

BY SCOTT HUNT - shunt@chronicle-tribune.com

The Marion Giants shook off a slow start and finished with a flurry Saturday night in Bill Green Arena against Fort Wayne South.

Midway through the first quarter, the Giants were staring at a 14-2 deficit to the Archers thanks in part to four quick turnovers and a cold shooting night to start.

But Marion hung in and used its defense to forced four South turnovers in the final two minutes, erasing a 58-51 Archer lead. Jalen Blackmon knocked down a pair of free throws with 5.4 seconds to play and the Giants forced the Archers into a contested three that was off the mark as the final seconds ticked off to escape with a 62-60 win.

South controlled play for most of the contest, leading 16-9 after one and extending its lead to 33-22 by halftime.

Late in the third quarter the Giants started to chip away.

Sophomore Josh Balfour scored a pair of field goals followed by a RaSheed Jones triple along with a pair of free throws and to pull the Giants within 47-42 entering the final eight minutes.

“When they started pressing us we were looking over the top and we had RaSheed up early but we made the adjustment to put him deep on the press and that space was wide open,” Giants coach James Blackmon said. “We did a good job of recognizing that and executing down the stretch.”

The Archers scored the first points of the final quarter just seconds in but the Giants followed with six straight points while holding South without a basket for more than three minutes to close within 49-48 with 4:56 to play.

South then answered with a run of its own, outscoring Marion 9-3 over to move back in front 58-51 with 2:12 to play.

Qu’Ran Howard got Marion’s dramatic comeback started with a pair of free throws before D’Angelo Jones still and assist for a Blackmon layup and Marion was within 58-55 with under 1:30 to play.

Blackmon then made a steal and driving layup while drawing a foul with 58 seconds left, but a missed free throw left South leading 58-57.

D’Angelo Jones gave Marion its first lead of the contest with another steal and a strong drive to the basket for a layup with 50 seconds to play.

South reassumed the lead at 60-59 with a Treveon Jones basket with 35 seconds left.

RaSheed Jones tied the game with 27.6 to play by making 1-of-2 from the foul line before the Archers were called for traveling giving Marion the final possession.

The Giants put the ball in Jalen Blackmon’s hands and he made a strong drive to the basket and was fouled. The South defender also drew blood on Blackmon forcing Marion coach James Blackmon to take a timeout with 5.4 seconds to play to assure his youngest son could stay in and shoot the free throws.

Jalen calmly drained both for the 62-60 lead and D’Angelo Jones partially blocked South’s last second, corner three to secure the win.

Jalen Blackmon finished with 30 points, RaSheed Jones ended with nine while Balfour and Howard each chipped in six.

“If we allow ourselves to continue to develop as a team, as far as able to take something from timeouts and put it in game type situations, it makes us a better team and gives us a chance to win down the stretch,” James Blackmon said. “I thought we did that.”

The win is Marion’s third in a row and the Giants will return to Bill Green Arena on Friday to host North Central Conference foe Indianapolis Tech.