(San Marcos) - Stacey Radtke notched a 15-point, 10-rebound double-double and anchored a dominant interior defensive effort to help the Marion girls basketball team advance through the second round of the 3A Region IV playoffs Friday night with a 53-33 win over Blanco at San Marcos Academy.
The focal point of Marion's defensive game plan was to contain Blanco post Kendall Brock, who came in averaging 17.3 points per game and scored 26 in the Panthers' bi-district win over Jourdanton last Monday. Brock finished with 12 points, but only four in the first half as Marion built a 29-11 lead.
"The girls executed our game plan about as well as we could have asked for, especially in the first half," Marion head coach Kollyn McWhinney said. "We worked a lot on denying the ball into the post and making sure our rotations were there, and in particular the backside, because they like to lob it over the top, because they always have a second big girl on the backside, and I thought we did a great job with that."
In addition to frustrating Brock and rebounding missed shots on the defensive end, Radtke knocked down mid-range jumpers, finished strong in transition, and made 3-4 free throws on the offensive end to notch game-high scoring honors.
"She has extended her range out a little bit, but I think the thing that excites me even more is that she's getting so much more aggressive attacking the basket," McWhinney said of her 6'0" senior post. "She even attacked it from a couple of dribbles out a couple of times on the transition, and that's not something she would have done probably even a month ago. She's just getting so much more confident every game, and I think that she was big for us on both ends of the court tonight."
Three other Bulldogs joined Radtke in double figures. Madelyn Abrameit and Samantha Hopper scored 11 points apiece, and Brianna Randle added 10. Hopper came up with seven steals, Randle collected five, and Abrameit finished with five rebounds, three steals, and three assists. Madison Batey totaled four points, Alex Leos two, and each of those players came up with two steals.
Marion jumped out to a 13-2 lead in the first quarter, but Blanco scored five straight points to make a six-point game heading into the second period. The Panthers hung tough for a stretch, but the Bulldogs closed the quarter with 10 straight points to take an 18-point cushion into halftime. Marion led by as many as 30 in the second half before settling for the 20-point win.
McWhinney emphasized an efficient start against a Blanco team that played the Bulldogs within eight points (46-38) at the Fredericksburg tournament in early December.
"We discussed that this is a team that really comes out fast," the coach said. "On the season, their first quarter is their biggest quarter by far, and the first time, they jumped on us 13-4 in the first, so we talked about really needing to be focused in that first quarter, and I feel like we were, and I think that was a big part, that we set the tone early, and we got a lot of confidence from that and were able to carry that over."
The win improved Marion's season record to 26-8. The Bulldogs face Palacios in the 3A Region IV quarterfinals on Tuesday in Cuero, at either 7:30 or 8 p.m. The start time had not been finalized at press time due to the possibility of a doubleheader in Cuero's facility.