By Mike Battreall, The Herald Bulletin
ANDERSON — It wasn’t the prettiest renewal of this ancient North Central Conference rivalry between Anderson and Marion Tuesday night at The Tipi.
In a contest full of wild shots and up-and-down-the-court action, Marion prevailed over a game Indian squad 67-60.
Anderson (4-9, 2-2 NCC) ran with the defending Class 3A state champion Giants — who’ve topped 90 points three times this season — and their 84-foot offense and defense.
And the Indians had success initially and during a brief period late in the third quarter. But ultimately, Marion (5-6, 3-1 NCC) made its trips to the basket count and got out with the win.
“We really didn’t (want to play Marion’s game),” Anderson coach Jeff Howard said. “We wanted to shorten the game if we could.”
It was apparent early on it would be easier said than done. In fact, it was the Indians that forced the tempo, and they got out to a 17-8 lead 14 seconds into the second quarter on the second of three dunks by Marquavius Beverly in a 3½-minute span.
Marion answered with a 12-2 run and took its first lead of the night, 27-24, on a 3-pointer by Cameron Black.
The Indians would not go back ahead the rest of the night.
After the Giants went up 41-35, Anderson got five in a row, with Brandon Haralson splitting a pair of free throws to keep it a one-point game.
The momentum again swung Marion’s way, as Tim Leavell kicked off a 7-0 run with a three ball. The Giants had their largest lead of the contest with 33 seconds left in the third quarter.
Anderson charged back from a 55-48 deficit and made it 57-56 when Raphael Williams buried a 3 with 3:41 to go.
Back-to-back baskets by Tyrese Cobb put Marion ahead by five. It would remain at least a two-possession game from there.
“We had some really crucial, crucial turnovers down the stretch just trying to go too fast,” Howard said. “We came out and competed, and I’m just competitive enough to tell you that we should have won the game.”
Williams led Anderson with 18 points. Beverly added 14, as did JoMel Boyd, who also grabbed 11 rebounds.
The teams combined for 127 shots, with the Indians going 24-for-65 (36.9 percent) and Marion 25-of-62 (40.3 percent). Anderson shot 8-for-18 at the foul line.
Leavell had a game-high 23 points and Cobb 14 for the Giants.
The Indians, after falling 79-44 to Hamilton Southeastern Saturday, faced a reigning state champ for the third time this season (they lost to 2A Lapel and beat 1A Liberty Christian).
“No. 1, we competed, and No. 2, we defended well at times,” Howard said. “I really liked our ball movement and I was pleased with our overall effort “
Anderson hosts Harrison in another NCC clash Friday as part of a girls/boys double-header. Marion is at Lafayette Jeff Friday and hosts Liberty Christian on Saturday.