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Unexpected shooting lifts Giants past Indians

By CHUCK LANDIS - clandis@chronicle-tribune.com

Mississinewa dared the Marion girls' basketball team to shoot from outside during their intra-county matchup Tuesday evening.

Much to the Indians' chagrin, Jazmyn Turner accepted the challenge and came through with 28 points in the Giants' 57-44 victory in Bill Green Arena for their fourth straight win.

Mississinewa (10-7) tied the game 40-all on Caily Bolser's 3-point basket with 5:10 to play. But Markeisha Jackson answered with an outside shot for her only points of the game and Marion (13-4) closed out the game with 13-of-14 shooting from the free throw line.

Turner came into the game having connected on 4-of-11 from 3-point range. But with Indians defenders packed in the paint like sardines in a tin can, the 6-foot-1 senior drained all three of her long-range attempts in the first half and spark the Giants.

"Yeah, I've been working on (3-point shooting) and and it becomes natural," said Turner, who was two short of her career high 30 points last year against McCutcheon. "I just wanted to get the win and I knew I had to step up and do what I can do."

Marion had shot 58 percent from the free throw line this season and was 7-of-14 through three quarters. Turner was perfect on all six attempts in the fourth while RaShaya Kyle made four and Ayana Harvey was 3-of-4 at the line.

"We hit them when we had to and what we had done the last few days in practice is get up a lot of shots and a lot of free throws," Marion coach Lawrence Jordan said. "And we've been working hard on conditioning so we can get ready for the (North Central) conference championship and repeat as sectional champions."

Jordan said he could hear the Indians were "revved up" in their locker room adjacent to the Giants before the game and they jumped ahead 8-2 with less than three minutes left in the first quarter. The Giants missed 10 straight shots to begin the game but took their first lead 13-11 on two Turner free throws, and she then hit her first 3-pointer for a 16-11 advantage at the break.

While Turner (16 points) and Kyle (10) still were productive, Ole Miss' box-and-one zone defense frustrated the Giants and the Indians hung around trailing 30-22 at halftime. Steal and layups by Turner and Ellie Vermillion extended the lead to 34-22 and had the Indians on the brink.

But Marion scored just four points over a six-minute stretch and Ole Miss continued to stay close trailing 38-33 entering the final eight minutes. A 7-2 run fueled by Bolser's' five points the forged the first tie since the opening quarter.

Alayna Webb missed a 3-point attempt for Ole Miss with her team trailing by two points, and the Giants worked patiently and reestablished their inside game that set up their numerous trips to the foul line. 

"They did a very good job of pulling us out of our defense," said Bolser, who topped the Indians with 20 points and eight rebounds. "We were going to make them shoot (outside) and it was working and then they held the ball and got a little more inside, which kind of broke our defense and made us change defense.

"But our team fought hard and they wouldn't have won that big if we didn't have to foul at the very end," she added. "They hit their (free throw) shots and we can't do anything about that."

Turner had been 5-of-10 at the foul line before the fourth quarter, but everything else about her play was stellar and she connected on 7-of-11 overall from the field. She also collected 11 rebounds for her fourth double-double of the season and made three steals.

Kyle had a dreadful shooting game, finishing 5-of-19, but redeemed herself with 6-of-7 at the line and finished with 16 points and nine rebounds. Harvey just missed a double-double after collecting nine points and nine rebounds.

Vermilion was limited to two points while bothered with a knee injury and sticky defense from the Indians' Darah Watson. Marion shot 36 percent (17-of-47) but take away its dreadful start and the Giants were close to 50 percent.

"The box-and-one and it caught us a little bit off guard because we didn't think they'd take Ellie out of the game," Jordan said. "What a lot of teams do is not guard Markeisha, but in this instance they took our shooter away.

"(Assistant coach) Julius (Mays) and I are high ability thinkers - we were point guards - and it took a little time to figure it out. What we tried to do is have the girls spread the floor out, move the ball with a pass and have our bigs flash in the post and then get the ball inside."

Mississinewa shot 31 percent from the field (14-of-45) while combating Marion's great size but was exceptional at the foul line at 82 percent (14-of-17). Bolser was efficient on offense shooting 5-of-8 from the floor and missing just one of 10 free throw attempts.

"I think we have continued to learn," Bolser said of the Indians, who had won six of their previous eight before Tuesday. "I'm sure we have improved in minor ways, but I think we've become more confident and learned to play more together through the trials that we've had."

Watson had nine points in addition to her defensive play, McKee had seven points, and Ally Hewitt had five points and six rebounds. Mississinewa lost its 17th consecutive game to the Giants with the last win on Jan. 8, 2002.

In the third quarter, two fans setting in the Marion section were ejected from the arena by a game official. The game was disrupted for seven minutes and both fans were escorted out by Marion school officials.

Mississinewa hosts Northfield at 7:30 p.m. Thursday.

Marion plays at Muncie Central at 6 p.m. Friday in a varsity-only NCC game. The game will be played in the Central High School auxiliary gym.