(Seguin) - For the Marion boys basketball program to earn its first regional tournament berth in Jon Allen's 11 years as head coach, the Bulldogs will have to debunk the cliche that it's tough to beat a team three times in the same season.
Marion faces District 27-3A rival Schulenburg, whom the Bulldogs swept in two regular season meetings, in a 3A regional quarterfinal matchup tonight at Seguin's Goldie Harris Gym.
Allen's Bulldogs edged Richard Hoogendoorn's Shorthorns 49-46 on Jan. 12 and 53-46 on Feb. 6 as part of the team's current 18-game winning streak. Marion enters tonight with a 28-6 record after a perfect 14-0 run to the district championship and lopsided wins over Vanderbilt-Industrial (66-46) and Comfort (64-45) in the bi-district and area playoff rounds last week.
Schulenburg went 7-7 in district play to finish third behind Marion and Randolph, and owns an overall record of 23-12. The Shorthorns opened the playoffs with a 59-50 win over Edna last Tuesday and advanced through the area round on Friday by surviving an 87-86 double overtime thriller against Jourdanton.
Schulenburg's top individual player is versatile 6'3" guard Myles Thomas. The senior's combination of size and athleticism has produced team-high averages of 14.9 points, 9.3 rebounds, and 3.3 assists per game this season. He is also the team's most prolific three-point shooter, draining 50 in 146 attempts (34 percent).
Thomas scored 21 points in Schulenburg's three-point loss to Marion in January, but only managed seven in the Feb. 6 rematch. The Bulldogs made Thomas take a high volume of shots to get his points. He went 7-20 (4-10 on threes) from the floor in the first meeting, and only 3-12 (1-5 threes) in the second.
Marion's versatile junior forward Jacob Wallace proved a tough matchup for Schulenburg in the two regular season clashes. He produced 12 points and five rebounds in the first meeting, and piled up 23 points, eight rebounds, four assists, and four steals in the second.
Wallace, who has totaled 18 assists in his last three games, enters tonight averaging 12.7 points and 8.2 rebounds per game. His 6'5 frontcourt mate Jackson Allen leads the Bulldogs with a 13.8 scoring average, but only produced 15 total in the two previous meetings with Schulenburg.
The point guard matchup will intriguing to watch as well. Marion's Creet Rabenaldt is averaging 9.4 points on the season and has scored 16 and 14, respectively, in two playoff games. He led the Bulldogs with 16 points in the January win over Schulenburg as well. Schulenburg's 5'7" senior Leo Veloz averages 8.7 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.0 assists, and a team-high 3.5 steals per game, and netted 14 in the January loss to Marion.
Tonight marks Marion's first trip to regional quarterfinals since 2015 and the third overall in Allen's 11 seasons.
The opening tip at Goldie Harris Gym is slated for 7 p.m., and the game will air live on KWED 1580 AM and Seguintoday.com, with pre-game coverage at 6:45.