MARION — While everyone else was handed one celebratory chocolate chip cookie last night, Dusty Albaugh got two. Not that he didn’t earn them or anything.
His steal and layup with 2.2 seconds left helped the Marion Indians escape Center Point-Urbana, 55-51, last night in an excellent Class 3A district basketball opener.
“Probably a kick in the butt or something,” the talkative Albaugh said, when asked what he would have gotten had he not made the game-winning play.
Center Point-Urbana (10-12) had the ball out of bounds with 14 seconds left in a tie game, getting ready for what looked like the final shot. But Albaugh swiped at the basketball when sophomore guard Josh Jirak made a crossover-dribble move out front and stole it cleanly, driving the floor and nailing a right-handed layup.
CP-U called timeout but had a baseball pass go out of bounds at midcourt. Kasey Semler was fouled and made two free throws to move Marion (15-7) on to a district final Thursday night at Cedar Rapids Kennedy against either Mount Vernon or Independence.
“Jirak is a pretty good athlete, and he’s a good driver,” Albaugh said. “He crossed me up really good at the beginning of the game and got me … He did that same move, and I saw it coming. As soon as he put his hand down to come across, I knew what was coming. I just tipped it away, and it was right there.”
“That’s what you expect out of your seniors,” said Marion Coach Mike Manderscheid. “Credit goes to our kids. They found a way.”
Marion beat CP-U twice in the regular season, but a triangle-and-two defense against leading scorers Semler and Albaugh seemed to flummox the Indians, as did terrific perimeter shooting from the Stormin’ Pointers, who hit 7 of 13 3-pointers. Treys from Nick Wood and Jared Jirak gave CP-U a 51-46 lead with three minutes left, but it turned the ball over on its final four possessions to let Marion back in.
Jared Jirak had five 3s and 17 points to lead CP-U. Josh Jirak added 11 and Wood 10.
Semler had 17 points for Marion and Dylan Cronk 13.
“They didn’t really do that (triangle-and-two) in the first two games,” Semler said. “But we knew they would do something different this time. We worked on the triangle-and-two all week in practice, though it didn’t really look like it. I’m just happy to get out of here with a win.”
“I told the guys it’s going to be like this the rest of the way,” Albaugh said. “If not tougher.”
Here is the game boxscore. Videos above are of Albaugh talking about the game and the Marion student section celebrating it (below):
CENTER POINT-URBANA (51): Nathan Becker 2-7 2-2 6, Nick Wood 3-8 3-5 10, Josh Jirak 5-8 0-1 11, Colin Kramer 2-3 1-1 5, Jared Jirak 5-9 2-3 17, Aric Myers 0-1 0-0 0, Tyler Smith 1-1 0-0 2, Joey Dighton 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 18-37 8-12 51.
MARION (55): Dusty Albaugh 3-11 1-3 9, Dylan Cronk 6-11 1-1 13, Dan Van Gorp 3-5 2-3 8, Kasey Semler 5-16 6-7 17, Tyler Fisher 1-4 0-0 2, Mark Stone 1-4 0-0 2, Austin Hardman 2-2 0-0 4. Totals 21-53 10-14 55.
Halftime — Marion 31, Center Point-Urbana 28. 3-point goals — Center Point-Urbana 7-13 (Becker 0-2, Wood 1-2, Jo. Jirak 1-1, Ja. Jirak 5-8), Marion 3-16 (Albaugh 2-6, Semler 1-5, Fisher 0-2, Stone 0-3). Rebounds — Center Point-Urbana 22 (Becker, Wood 5), Marion 32 (Fisher 7). Total fouls — Center Point-Urbana 16, Marion 12. Fouled out — None. Turnovers — Center Point-Urbana 23, Marion 18.