From entering district play as the fourth seed to finishing the season in the top eight teams in the state, Marionville's postseason run was nothing short of inspiring. The underdog Comets hit their stride in the back end of the regular season and rode the wave of success to three district wins and a defeat of Liberal in the sectional round. But the Cinderella story came to an abrupt end just before the team could reach the final four, as the Comets were defeated 57-52 by Greenwood last Saturday.
Marionville came in to the quarterfinal matchup with a five game winning streak, 12 wins in its last 13 games and an overall record of 22-7. Greenwood, though, was even hotter -- coming into the game having won 14 straight. Something had to give.
The Blue Jays got on the board with a score on their first possession of the opening quarter, but the Marionville offense started a bit cold. More than three minutes passed before senior Gavin Stanton recorded the first bucket for the Comets, but he and Josh Goodman would quickly get the team back into it.
The duo combined for all the Comets' points in the first quarter, giving Marionville its first lead of the game with three minutes to go. But Greenwood took advantage of its opportunities late in the period to lead 14-11 after the first eight minutes.
Marionville would tie it again a few minutes into the second quarter on a trey by Goodman, but the Blue Jays would answer immediately. Two more three-pointers from Goodman would be all the Comets would get on offense for the rest of the half, and the defense didn't fare any better. Second and third chance shots by Greenwood quickly put Marionville in a hole, and by the halftime buzzer the Comets trailed 35-22.
Not much changed in the third quarter, as Goodman again accounted for nine of the Comets' 11 points in the period, and Greenwood led 45-33 with one quarter to go.
But after such a dramatic run to get to this point, the Comets couldn't go down without a fight. Soon the Greenwood lead was down to 10, then five, then three with a minute and a half remaining as Jordan Williams came off the bench to bury a three-pointer and ignite the Marionville crowd.
With 1:04 on the clock, Williams was at the line for a one-and-one. The sophomore missed the first shot, but a rebound by Stanton gave him another chance and after another bucket by Williams the Comets trailed by just one point.
Running out of time, Marionville had to foul and put the Blue Jays at the line for a chance to get the ball back. But the team missed its chances when it did have the ball, and Greenwood put just enough free throws through the net to keep the game out of reach for the Comets. Marionville's improbable run ended with a heart-wrenching 57-52 defeat.
In his final game for the Comets, Goodman finished with 29 points to lead the team one last time. Stanton added 12, while Williams scored five. Senior Evan Dotson contributed four points, while classmate Laythen Utke added two.
Marionville's seniors -- Goodman, Stanton, Utke, Dotson and Dominick Clevenger -- finished their senior season with an overall record of 22-8 and a district title to boot. Three of them also earned All-Conference honors after the first year of Southwest Conference play. Stanton was named the conference's Player of the Year, while Goodman earned a first team spot and Utke was an honorable mention nod.