(Moulton) – The third quarter of Monday’s 3A bi-district playoff game in Moulton felt uncomfortably familiar to Marion fans as Vanderbilt-Industrial erased a 10-point halftime deficit with a 13-0 run, but the Bulldogs were determined to avoid a similar fate to the 2016 area-round meeting between the teams and countered with a 12-0 run of their own to fuel a 45-35 victory over the Cobras.
Almost a year earlier, Marion watched a seven-point halftime lead turn into a six-point season ending loss to Industrial in the same gymnasium.
In the 2017 rematch, the Bulldogs owned a 25-15 cushion at the intermission, but the Cobras turned it into a 28-25 deficit by holding Marion scoreless over the first six minutes of the third quarter.
Sophomore forward Jackson Allen’s driving layup ended the Bulldogs’ scoring drought with 38 seconds left in the period, and Jacob Wallace followed with an inside bucket to put Marion back in front, 29-28, heading into the fourth quarter. The Bulldogs scored the first eight points of the final period to build a nine-point cushion, and Industrial came no closer than five the rest of the way.
“It is what it is – it wasn’t pretty, but in the end they did what they needed to do to win the game,” Marion head coach Jon Allen said. “Yeah, I was a little worried, but I’m proud of the kids for coming back like that.”
Marion guard Cole Holden, who averaged 6.4 points per game during the regular season, erupted for 22 to lead all scorers on Monday. Holden scored nine of the Bulldogs’ 12 points in the first quarter on three three-pointers, finished 8-11 on total field goal attempts, and went a perfect 5-5 on two-point tries.
Holden’s offensive outburst didn’t surprise Allen.
“He’s a senior, and he doesn’t want to quit playing, and that’s a testament to him” the coach said. “We talked about that – how many different leading scorers we’ve had this year – and it seems like every game, we’ve got a different one. He stepped up tonight, and it was big for us.”
Fabian Guerrero and Tyler Bridges scored five points apiece, Guerrero dished out four assists, and Jackson Allen grabbed a team-high 11 rebounds to go with four points. Wallace had four points and six rebounds, J.D. Raggio finished with three points, four rebounds, and two assists, and Jacob Berry rounded out the scoring with two points.
Kyle Alexander led Industrial (21-14) with 13 points. Marion overcame 35 percent shooting (17-48) and a 7-17 night at the free throw line to advance.
The Bulldogs take a 22-10 record in the area playoffs later this week. Marion will face the winner of Tuesday’s bi-district game between Fox Tech and Johnson City. No final from that contest was available at press time.