After a 2-0 start, the Marceline girls' basketball team looked doomed to come out on the wrong end of close ones.
Before Tuesday's 64-54 home victory over Paris in the Lewis & Clark opener, the Tigers lost three consecutive games by a combined 12 points to staunch opponents.
The game was back-and-forth early on, and Paris took a 13-12 lead into the second quarter before blowing up for a 9-1 run two minutes in. Marceline went on a violent run of its own after employing a full-court press, tying the game at 27 apiece and taking a 32-29 lead into the halftime break.
Senior Baylee Jobson scored eight points in four possessions to give the Tigers the lead back -- one they would never relinquish.
Marceline had looked ahead for weeks to facing conference-elite post player Tori Hamilton, a senior listed at what is probably an accurate 6-foot-6. The Tigers forced Hamilton into foul trouble early on, and most of Marceline's second quarter rally took place with her on the pine.
"We knew we had to get her off the court, so getting her in foul trouble early on was kind of the game plan all along," Marceline head coach Jordan Beck said. "We put some pressure on them and made their guards handle it. We didn't get as big of a window as I would've like to have at halftime, but we came out after the half and did everything right to extend that lead. They did just what I asked of them."
Marceline took a 44-39 lead into the final quarter on the back of sophomore Ramzee Bruner's perimeter defense, making it virtually impossible for Paris to keep the ball moving from the corners to the interior.
When senior Kenzie Stahl was intentionally fouled in transition with a little over two minutes remaining in the fourth, she gave her team an 11-point lead to all but seal it.
Stahl posted a team-high 21 points, and Bruner had 19. Jobson, though in foul trouble throughout the evening, also ended in double-figures with 14 points. Sophomore Chloee Dorrell added five, senior Abbey Kussman had three, and freshman Addison Huber tacked on a bucket.
The Tigers kept Hamilton in check, but she still finished with an impressive 21.
"Once we started pressing, we knew we also had to step up our half-court defense if they got set up," Kussman said. "We started communicating, letting each other know when to switch and who we have. We did a poor job of that to begin the second quarter but that was probably the biggest difference in us taking a lead."
The Tigers and Coyotes both become 3-3 with the result.
Marceline finishes the 2019 portion of the season in La Plata on Friday. The Bulldogs enter 5-2.