MARION — Forgive the double-negative, but you can’t say Mitch Wagner isn’t clutch anymore. The Marion point guard dribbled up court in the final 4.3 seconds and swished a free-throw line jumper at the buzzer to give his team a 50-48 win Friday night over Williamsburg.
“Coach wanted me to go the whole way,” Wagner said. “Just try to get it up as fast as I could. I just tried to find an open shot. Luckily the shot went down. I kind of had a feeling. It was straight on.”
Just call Wagner the Comeback Kid in multiple ways. He missed the first seven games this season because of a violation of school policy. In his second game back, he missed two free throws with two seconds left in overtime that would have beat Center-Point Urbana.
Truth be told, he missed a key one-and-one in the final 25 seconds Friday night that allowed Williamsburg (7-6) the opportunity to tie. But, boy, did he make up for it.
“Sometimes scrambling is just best,” said Marion Coach Mike Manderscheid, whose team climbed to 8-7 with its fifth win in six games. “We always talk that you’ve got one dribble per second. I asked him ‘Well, how many dribbles do you have?’ He said three and a half, and I told him ‘Nope, you’ve got five. You’re going to catch it, and you’re quick enough that you’re just going to go. If somebody collapses, just kick it to the perimeter.’”
Wagner didn’t have to. Louis Cain nailed a pair of timeout-interrupted free throws to tie the game at 48. Instead of calling timeout to set up a play, Marion played straight through, with Wagner taking the inbounds pass, power dribbling down the left sideline, stopping and cutting back to the stripe.
A pullup and a swish. Winner, winner, chicken dinner.
“I’m happy for him,” Manderscheid said.
“All we said was let them inbound it, keep it in front of us and don’t let him get to the free-throw line,” said Wiliamsburg Coach Dave Schlabaugh, whose team has lost five of six. “And we let him get to the free-throw line.”
Marion took a 27-20 halftime lead, only to score three points in the third quarter and have Williamsburg take a one-point lead. It was back and forth the entire fourth quarter.
Jared Huhndorf had 12 points and Cale Cannoy 10 to lead Marion. Jordan McMenomy came off the bench for a team-high 11 for Williamsburg, with Mick Donohoe adding 10, six under his average.
WILLIAMSBURG (48): Adam Aljets 3 0-0 6, Matt Heitmann 1 2-2 4, Mick Donohoe 4 0-0 10, Drew Slings 0 0-0 0, Sam Simmons 1 0-0 2, Jackson Petz 3 2-2 8, Louis Cain 2 3-4 7, Jordan McMenomy 5 0-0 11. Totals 19 7-8 48.
MARION (50): Brenden Landuyt 3 0-0 8, Jared Huhndorf 6 0-0 12, Isaac Frazer 4 1-4 9, Cale Cannoy 4 0-0 10, Mitch Wagner 2 0-1 5, Tyler Gunderson 3 0-0 6, Andrew Davis 0 0-0 0, Jake McDonald 0 0-0 0. Totals 22 1-6 50.
Halftime — Marion 27, Williamsburg 20. 3-point goals — Williamsburg 3 (Donohoe 2, McMenomy), Marion 5 (Cannoy 2, Wagner, Landuyt). Total fouls — Williamsburg 10, Marion 12. Fouled out — None.