RACHEL — North Marion showed grit, heart and desire, but couldn’t find a way to finish on top in the team’s season-opener against Trinity on Thursday night inside North Marion High School.
The Huskies fell, 69-67, in overtime.
It was the first varsity game for the bulk of the NMHS roster, including each player inside the starting lineup. The team only had three returning lettermen, and the inexperience showed at times.
However, the group played hard and rallied for most of the night against the Warriors.
“I was nervous for them,” North Marion coach Chris Freeman said after the loss. “All five starters are brand new. I didn’t know what they were going to do, but they came out with a spark.”
North Marion was crisp right from the tip-off, shooting 8-for-14 from the field in the first quarter.
Junior Brandon Dixon made three three-point baskets to give the Huskies a 21-17 lead after one quarter.
However, the team cooled off mightily from that point on as the Huskies quickly relinquished the lead. It was just one out of a dozen lead changes on the night.
Trinity outscored North Marion by six in the second quarter.
Trinity’s Adam Robertson made a three, then drove to the basket for a contested lay-in before the half. Robertson scored 10 of his 12 points in the first half.
North Marion trailed 37-35 at the break.
The Huskies would tie the game at 39 after Elijah Hines’ lay-up underneath the hoop early in the third, but it would prove to be two of NMHS’s seven points in the quarter.
Trinity’s Will Jackson made a three in the left corner as time expired in the third, giving the Warriors a 49-42 advantage.
It appeared the young Huskies were on the ropes.
“We don’t feel like we are ever out of a game,” Freeman said. “We talked to our guys about trying to win a four-minute battle. They believe they can play. The heart was there; the effort was there. The execution on offense was as good as I hoped it could be.”
It was the fourth quarter when North Marion sophomore guard Micah Parrish shined. He led the way for a Husky comeback, driving to the rim and getting shots to fall.
Parrish made 7-of-9 shots down the stretch including a bucket to cut the Trinity lead to five with three and a half minutes to play and scoring after a steal to tie that game at 53.
“He grew up in the gym and when we asked him to make plays, he stepped up,” Freeman said. “He’s a good ball player. He’s a tough guard for people.”
Trinity held a 59-55 lead when Parrish cut to the basket and scored. The Warriors threw the ball away on the ensuing in-bound giving North Marion a chance to tie it.
Chandler Cutrone, one of three seniors on the Huskies’ roster, hit his only shot of the evening to tie the game at 59.
Trinity had a chance to steal one at the buzzer, but turned the ball over with just 2.9 seconds remaining.
In overtime, Parrish and Jones traded baskets before North Marion’s Curtin Jones made a jumper with a minute left to draw the Huskies equal at 67.
North Marion had a chance to win the game with less than a minute to play in OT. Parrish drove to the basket and was met in the lane by a Trinity defender for a jump ball.
The possession arrow favored the Warriors allowing Jones to hit a game-winning circus shot with just three seconds remaining.
Jones scored 17 for Trinity in the win while Christian Griffith added 11.
Parrish scored 17 of his game-high 21 points in the second half and overtime. Ryan Gillespie chipped in with eight points.
North Marion shot 40 percent from the field, but made just 9-of-20 free throw attempts that turned out to be a very impactful part of the game.
“We stressed to our guys just to get to the line so maybe I jinxed them,” Freeman said. “We’ve been shooting very well from the free throw line in practice. But when the lights come on, it’s different out there.”
With the loss, NMHS fell to 0-1 on the season and will look to rebound on Tuesday night when the Huskies host East Fairmont.
Trinity improved to 1-1.
Email Joe Mitchin at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @JoeMitchinTWV.