Marion, AL. - Head men's basketball coach, Philip Stitt, used a sophomore laden starting five trying to secure the Tigers first home ACCC North victory Thursday evening against the Cougars from Lawson State Community College. Four of those starters - Andrew Reddick, Ladarius Carter, Josue Passius, and Willie Dunbar III - finished the game strong to improve the team's record to 12-5 overall, 3-3 in the ACCC North.
Lawson State took an early lead to start the game. Willie Dunbar III scored the first six points for the Tigers to keep the home squad close. Marion took their first lead (8-7) at the 16:16 mark when Joshua Rathell found Josue Passius underneath the basket. The score would shift back and forth between the two teams before the Cougars held on for a one-point half time lead, 29-30.
MMI's offense went cold to start the second half and Lawson State took advantage of the missed attempts, building their lead to double digits halfway through the second half. When it looked like Marion would suffer another home loss, the Tigers turned up their defensive pressure and started a run of their own with just under nine minutes to play in regulation. Slowly the Tigers began to chip into Lawson's lead and shift the momentum back to the home team.
With under eight minutes to play, sophomore Ladarius Carter found his stroke from behind the 3-point arc to give Marion their first lead in the second half, 51-49. Passius followed with a layup to make it 53-50. Lawson scored on their next possession but freshman Jacorey Turnipseed hit a mid-range jumper to keep the lead at three.
Lawson tied the game on their next possession at 55 apiece, going three-for-three from the charity stripe. Reddick hit some key free throws on MMI's next two possesions to build the lead back to four, 59-55. The Cougars wouldn't go away lightly and scored to keep the game within reach. Passius hit back-to-back shots to grow Marion's lead to six, 63-57.
Lawson hit one-of-three free throws on their next possession to make the score 63-58. A big defensive play by sophomore point guard Andrew Reddick helped the Tigers get the ball back with 48.2 seconds to go and a five-point lead. Dunbar hit two free throws before Lawson hit a deep three-point shot with 24.5 seconds to play to make it a four point game (65-61). Carter hit two free throws to extend the lead to 67-61 with under 15 seconds to play and after a Lawson State layup, returned to the line for another two attempts. Connecting on both attempts, Carter helped secure the 69-63 victory for the Tigers.
Carter led Marion with 16 points, all in the second half. Dunbar and Passius each finished in double figures with 15 and 12 points, respectively. Rounding out the scoring for Marion were: Turnipseed (8), Reddick (7), Mark Bradwell (4), Rathell (4), and Monte Wilkerson (3).
The Tigers will travel to Gadsden, Alabama Monday evening for another ACCC North match-up against the Cardinals of Gadsden State Community College. Tiip-off is scheduled for 7:00 p.m.