By Mike McBride, Sports Director
(Seguin) – The Marion boys basketball program is headed to the UIL regional semifinals for the first time in school history after pulling away late to beat district rival Schulenburg 56-45 in the 3A Region IV quarterfinals Tuesday at Seguin’s Goldie Harris Gym.
Senior point guard Creet Rabenaldt scored 16 of his game-high 22 points and hit four threes in the first half to help the Bulldogs methodically build a 28-24 halftime lead.
Marion led by as many as nine in the third quarter and took a six-point cushion, 43-37, into the fourth period. Schulenburg, who fell to the Bulldogs twice during the District 27-3A regular season, rallied to within a single point, 46-45, midway through the final frame.
After the Shorthorns failed to take the lead on two straight possessions, Marion put the game away with 10 unanswered points. A driving runner by Fabian Guerrero and a tip-in by Jacob Wallace put the Bulldogs up by five, and Rabenaldt drained six straight free throws in the final 36 seconds to stretch the margin to 11.
“Awesome for these guys,” Marion head coach Jon Allen said of his team securing the program’s first regional tournament berth. “We’ve talked about it, and we don’t want to be satisfied with that, and we don’t think anybody that’s coming into the regional tournament is better than us, so I think we’re ready. We’re kind of playing on house money now, so I think we’re going to play a little looser come Friday.”
Marion has now won 19 straight games dating back to Dec. 16, and takes a 29-6 record into Friday’s semifinal against defending Region IV champion Santa Rosa, scheduled for a 6 p.m. tip at Goldie Harris Gym.
In addition to Rabenaldt’s big night, Wallace finished with 10 points, nine rebounds, and four assists. Jackson Allen grabbed a team-high 15 rebounds to go with five points. Zach Goodwin finished with seven points, Guerrero five, Jacob Berry four, and Brevin Wilson three.
Rabenaldt is averaging 17.3 points in three playoff games after scoring at a 9.2 clip during the regular season
“I don’t know what to say about him – he’s our best shooter,” Allen said of his 5’6” point guard. “He kills people in open gym – you wouldn’t think so, but what he’s doing right now doesn’t surprise me. I’m happy for him, we need him to step up, and he’s doing that for us.”
After Schulenburg adjusted its defense to crowd Rabenaldt on the perimeter in the second half, other players like Guerrero, Wilson, Goodwin, and Wallace stepped up and hit big shots when the ball rotated their way.
“That’s been our whole mantra all year, and I trust my guys,” Allen said. “I trust every one of them to be able to do that. We ran a little play for Brevin at the top, and he hit that three, Fabian comes in and hits a three for us, I mean they have the green light. I’ve never told any of them they can’t play, so they do it when it matters, and I hope we can keep doing that.”
Marion went 8-19 from three-point range and 12-13 at the free throw line. Myles Thomas led Schulenburg with 12 points, 10 in the second half.
Friday’s Marion – Santa Rosa regional semifinal at Goldie Harris Gym will air live on KWED 1580 AM and Seguintoday.com, with pre-game coverage at 5:45 p.m.