MARION — Erauna Hardaway hit two free throws with 1:05 remaining to give Jonesboro a 54-52 win over Marion in Friday night’s 5A Eastern Conference game at Fidelity Bank Arena.
It was the last of 12 leading changes in the match.
“It’s a big win because you want to go into the state tournament with a win,” Jonesboro coach Jodi Christenberry said. “Marion came after us, and we didn’t always respond the way I would have liked, but we’ll go back to the drawing board.”
Jonesboro will be the No. 1 seed in the East at next week’s Class 5A State Tournament in Sheridan, while Marion will be the No. 3 seed.
Jonesboro (19-6, 13-1) hit Marion (19-10, 9-5) with an 11-2 run to close out the first quarter as the visitors scored their first four three-point shots. The Golden Hurricane led 18-10 after the first quarter.
Allanna Orsby scored three with 6:14 left in the first half for a 23-12 lead, but Marion closed the first half on a 9-3 run to slip to 30-29 at the half time.
The Lady Patriots opened the third quarter in an all-court press, which led to nine Jonesboro turnovers. The lead changed hands four times in the third quarter, the last of which on two Jessica Robins free throws that gave Marion a 40-38 advantage going into the fourth quarter.
That’s when Hardaway got to work, scoring eight points in various ways. The senior guard hit two three-pointers, the last of which gave Jonesboro a 46-42 lead with 6:21 to go.
Jonesboro led 52-48 with 2:40 remaining, but Marion got an Alyse Holliman pull and a Robins layup that tied the game with 1:22 left, setting the stage for Hardaway’s heroics.
Orsby, Destiny Thomas and Bramaya Johnson powered Jonesboro with 12 points apiece.
Robins powered Marion with 12 points, while Kiera Neal and Ny’Asia Jackson each scored 10 points.
Jonesboro scored the final 11 points to clinch the win.
The final set gave the Golden Hurricane (24-3, 14-0) their fourth straight win over Marion (23-7, 11-3).
Marion hit Jonesboro with a 10-2 run to close the first quarter, highlighted by seven straight points from junior Donnie Cheers, and the Patriots led 12-4 after eight minutes.
The Patriots opened up a 10-point lead on their first possession of the second quarter when Ryan Forrest scored on a runner.
Marion led 15-6 at halftime after limiting Jonesboro to 2 of 17 shots, forcing eight Golden Hurricane turnovers, blocking five shots and outscoring the visitors 12-7.
Jonesboro fought back behind Oklahoma State senior signee Quion Williams, who scored 12 points in the third quarter. Williams converted a three-pointer with 1:13 left in the third quarter to tie the game at 23-23.
Marion led 30-26 with 3:16 to go when rookie Terrion Burgess scored on a backhand, but Jonesboro kept Marion off the scoreboard for the final 3:16.
A Williams free throw gave Jonesboro its first 31-30 lead since 1-0 with 2:20 left in regulation. On Jonesboro’s next possession, Jesse Washington knocked down a three-pointer to force a timeout from Marion with 1:48 into the fourth.
Jonesboro made his last three free throws to close out Marion.
Williams scored 17 of his 19 points after halftime, while Washington added 10.
Ryan Forrest powered the Patriots with 14 points, while Cheers scored 11.