By Jeff Linder
CEDAR RAPIDS — The victories keep piling up for the Marion Indians.
So do the injuries.
Trailing by eight points with 4:45 to go, Class 3A third-ranked Marion assembled a game-shifting 16-0 run and raced past 4A No. 9 Cedar Rapids Kennedy, 69-64, in a non-conference girls’ basketball game last night at Kennedy High School.
27 points, 11 rebounds
“We had to keep playing,” said Sam Rinehart, who posted 27 points and 11 rebounds in a riveting post duel with Kennedy’s Jade Rogers. “We couldn’t give up. We showed a lot of heart and a lot of teamwork.”
Marion (20-1) takes a 13-game winning streak into Wednesday’s 3A regional first-round game against Maquoketa, The Indians also take a shrinking roster.
Already without starting point guard Shelby Perkins (torn ACL), replacement starter Leah Smith probably suffered the same fate to her left knee with less than a minute to go Saturday.
It dampened a remarkable comeback.
Kennedy (14-7) appeared on the brink of snapping a three-game losing streak when Olivia Meier’s basket gave the Cougars a 58-50 lead with 4:45 to play. But the stretch run belonged to the Indians. Big time.
“We had to gamble and turn on our press,” said Marion Coach Sherryl Gaffney-Paige. “We wanted to put a little pressure on them and force some quick shots. We had nothing to lose, and the girls responded.”
Morgan Paige scored on a drive. Brittany Fish drained a 3-pointer. Rinehart made two free throws. And when Paige hit two more foul shots, Marion held a 59-58 lead with 1:34 left.
The Indians weren’t done. Maggie Murphy and Paige combined for 3 of 4 free throws. Then, after the Smith injury, Rinehart converted on an inbounds pass. Paige made two more free throws to conclude the string and give Marion a 66-58 lead with 36 seconds left.
Kennedy has dropped four straight games for the first time in Coach Dennis Roloff’s 18-year tenure.
“We started taking some ill-advised shots down the stretch,” Roloff said. “I hope next time we play and we have the lead, the girls listen to their coach.
“Right now, it’s a whole new season and we have no starters. I need five girls to earn their jobs.”
Rogers might be a good place to start. The University of Iowa recruit registered 30 points and 15 rebounds.
Paige added 25 points for Marion despite battling foul trouble throughout.
“You have to be careful and move your feet under those circumstances,” she said. “This was a big win for us. It should be a confidence-builder for us for the (postseason).”
Kennedy hosts Davenport West or Muscatine in a 4A regional semifinal Saturday.
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