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Marengo presses into region finals

MARION — Marengo Academy (17-7) used a fourth quarter rally to hold off Meadowview Christian Thursday in the second round of the AISA Class AA West Region Tournament.

Defense dictated the pace of the first half as the team’s combined for only 35 points over the game’s first two quarters. The Longhorns entered intermission clinging to a 19-16 advantage.

MCA surged in the third quarter, tying the game at 31. With five seconds left on the third quarter clock, Longhorn junior Wood Collins popped an open three-pointer to give Marengo a 34-31 lead.

Meadowview countered immediately as Judson Mott banked in a shot from beyond half court to beat the buzzer and send the contest into its final period with a 34-34 tie.

“It definitely got their crowd into it,” Marengo head coach Danny Stenz said of the shot.

“It was obviously just a big luck shot,” MCA head coach Robbie Redd said. “Tonight it just wasn’t quite enough.”

Before the start of the fourth quarter, Stenz and the Longhorns changed game plans.

“I told the boys between the quarter that if we start taking it to the goal, it would definitely take their crowd out of it,” Stenz said.

In the final period of the game, Marengo stuck with its press defense and proceeded to attack the basket. The formula worked for a 15-12 MA advantage in a period that saw Marengo pull away briefly before Meadowview relied upon free throw shooting to tighten up the final score late.

Stenz said the Longhorns’ press defense was the key to the victory.

“It was working. We told (the MA players) is (Meadowview) beat it up the court, it would at least tire their legs out,” Stenz said. “I think that was the big key to it. That’s what we planned on.”

Daniel Blackmon led MCA with nine points. Justin Freeman and Adam Brown each added eight for the Trojans.

Dustin McIntyre had a game high 16 points for Marengo, adding five rebounds and six blocked shots in his effort. John Carlton finished with 12 points and 16 rebounds for MA.

The win sends Marengo to a Friday rendezvous with top-seeded Southern Academy to determine the region championship and seeding in next week’s state tournament.

“It’s probably going to work to Southern’s advantage with us having played two ball games (this week) and them only having played one,” Stenz said. That game is scheduled for a 5 p.m. tip off at MMI.

Meadowview will play Pickens Academy at 1 p.m. Friday to determine the three and four seeds from the West Region.

“No matter what seed you start at, you’ve still got to beat the best teams to win the state,” Redd said of Meadowview’s approach to the upcoming AISA state tournament.