Marion, AL. - The MMI Tigers defeated the Cardinals of Gadsden State Community College Monday evening 73-69 on the night that the sophomores were recognized in a pregame ceremony. Marion's manager Chris Parmley, along with players Ladarius Carter, Josue Passius, Willie Dunbar III, Nathan Boyd, Joshua Rathell, and Andrew Reddick were recognized before the game in front of a large home crowd.
Ladarius Carter scored the first points of the game and got Marion on a roll. Andrew Reddick found Willie Dunbar III to make the score 4-0. Six minutes into the game the Tigers held an 11-4 lead before Jacorey Turnipseed hit from deep to add another three points to the home squad, 14-5. Marion took their first double digit lead when freshman Stacy Burse hit a three-pointer from the corner to extend the lead to 17-7. Gadsden State cut the lead back to single digits, 31-23, after connecting on two free throws with 2:21 to play in the first half. Both teams traded baskets the final two minutes. Carter made two free throws to extend the lead back to ten, 35-25. After a missed dunk on Gadsden's next possession, Joshua Rathell made good on his baseline slam for a 37-25 Marion lead. Gadsden hit one of two free throws to end the half with Marion up 37-26.
The second half started with an MMI turnover and a quick score by Gadsden to cut the lead back to nine points, 37-28. Josue Passius hit a shot in the post but was followed by a Cardinal two-point basket to keep Gadsden within range. After it looked like MMI would take control of the game, the visitors went on a run starting at the 15:18 mark. GSCC hit two free throws and followed with another score on their next possession. That possesion was followed by an MMI missed shot and after a Gadsden layup the lead was cut to 47-44 before Willie Dunbar III ended Marion's scoring drought. Gadsden continued their run and tied the game at 53 apiece after a Marion turnover led to an uncontested layup.
Passius added a basket to give the Tigers a one-point lead but an offensive putback by GSCC gave them their first lead of the game, 57-58, at the 5:56 mark. Nathan Boyd gave the Tigers the lead back on the next possession but Gadsden followed with another two-point basket for another lead change. Andrew Reddick added two points and then Rathell hit a midrange jumper to extend MMI's lead to three points, 63-60.
The Cardinals hit a deep three-pointer to once again tie the game. Rathell hit two free throws but another offensive putback by GSCC made the game tied with under three minutes to play. Carter connected on a top of the key jumper and after missing a free throw gave the home team another two-point lead. Two free throws by Gadsden State on their next possession again tied the game, 67-67. A seesaw battle for the lead would continue to the final buzzer.
Carter scored on Marion's next possession but two free throws by GSCC once again evened the score. Rathell hit one of two free throws to give Marion a one-point lead with 1:29 minutes to play. A big rebound by Nathan Boyd gave Marion another opportunity to add to their lead and Carter connected on one of two free throws to give the home team a slim 71-69 lead. Marion looked to be in control when GSCC turned the ball over with 20.5 seconds left on the clock. A turnover by the Tigers gave the Cardinals a chance but a three-point attempt went long and Passius was fouled on the rebound. Josue connected on both free throws with 7.1 seconds remaining in the game to give Marion a four-point lead. A last second attempt by Gadsden was missed and MMI finished with the 73-69 victory.
Jacorey Turnipseed and Joshua Rathell each finished with 16 points each to lead Marion. Josue Passius added 12 points and Ladarius Carter added 11 points. Also scoring for MMI were: Andrew Reddick (4), Nathan Boyd (2), Stacy Burse (6), Willie Dunbar III (4), and Mark Bradwell (2).
Marion finished the regular season 16-9 overall, 7-7 in ACCC North play. The Tigers will travel to Chattahoochee Valley Community College Friday, March 1st, for the first round of the ACCC Tournament. The winner of Friday's game will advance to Lawson State CC to face Wallace State CC in the quaterfinal round next Tuesday.