Girls Basketball: Benton Crashes Boards, Burns Marion

By Jeff Linder and Scott Saville, Reporters

Marion's Michalyn Mohr (center) drives for the basket between Benton Community's Elizabeth Thompson (left) and Ashley Kullmer (right) during the first half of their girl's basketball game at Marion High School on Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2013, in Marion, Iowa. (Jim Slosiarek/Gazette-KCRG)

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By Grant Burkhardt

MARION, Iowa — If at first you don’t succeed …

Don’t sweat. Somebody else will be there to clean up the mess.

Class 4A second-ranked Benton Community got out to a big early lead and dominated the boards in a 55-38 Wamac Conference West Division girls’ basketball victory over Marion on Tuesday at Marion High School.

The Bobcats (13-1 overall, 7-1 Wamac West) collected 17 offensive rebounds, compared to just one for Marion (8-6, 5-3). They scored 16 points directly on putbacks, and a few more on second-chance opportunities.

“Rebounding is always a focus, but it was something we really knew we had to do tonight,” said Benton’s Sara Petrzelka. “We work hard on it in practice, and we definitely crashed hard tonight.”

Benton roared to a 15-2 lead, weathered a mild Marion run, then scored 12 straight points in a second-half surge to put it away.

Their 38-game regular-season win streak came to an end a week ago at Center Point-Urbana, but the Bobcats have been extremely impressive in their last two outings.

“When you’re winning, you can let certain things slide,” Benton Coach Laurie Donald said. “When you lose, they don’t slide anymore. We were able to call some things on the carpet, and it may have been a good thing.”

Because of the rebounding disparity (38-19 in all) and aided by Marion’s 23 turnovers, Benton took 22 more shots from the floor.

“Offensive rebounds and turnovers, that’s what sticks out in my mind,” said Marion Coach Corby Laube. “We’ve been playing good basketball, but for whatever reason, we weren’t very sharp tonight.

“But take nothing away from Benton. They were really good tonight.”

The Indians didn’t score from the floor through the first 7 1/2 minutes as the Bobcats raced ahead. Marion got as close as 22-15 on two free throws by Micaela Combs with 3:09 left in the second quarter, but all-stater Madison Weekly converted a four-point play — after a Benton offensive rebound, of course — on Benton’s next possession.

It was 39-27 before the Bobcats struck their second blow, a 12-0 job that doubled the margin to 24.

Weekly, who has signed with Northern Iowa, led all scorers with 15 points. Freshman Alyssa Wiebel added 11. Petrzelka notched eight points and eight rebounds, and Beth Thompson recorded 10 boards.

Michalyn Mohr led the Indians with 11 points. Amanda Sahm and Paige Perkins added seven apiece.

Benton hosts Independence on Friday; Marion is at Waterloo Columbus.

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