10:52 pm: Post-game
The Marcus Marauders win their first state championship in basketball, in one of the most exciting 40-38 games you'll ever see. They finish with a 39-and-1 record.
Marcus Smart won the 5A MVP award, finishing with 16 points and 11 rebounds. Senior Conner Taggert scored eight. On the Patriots side, Chris Jones scored nearly half his team's points, with 17; Bryan Lipsey was next with seven, all in the third quarter.
Marcus jumped out to a 10-2 lead in the first quarter, before Lakeview Centennial responded by scoring the last five points to make it 10-7 after one.
In the second, the Marauders completely smothered the Patriots, outscoring them 19-2 to take a 20-point lead at halftime.
The third quarter followed the same script; only the teams were different. Lakeview Centennial came out playing at a frenetic pace, and outscored Marcus 22-2, which tied the game 31-31 after three quarters. After the game, Marcus head coach Danny Henderson said that they knew Lakeview Centennial would come out playing like that in the second half; they just didn't expect it to be that good and that effective.
The pace slowed way down in the fourth quarter, just the way Marcus likes it. After the Patriots scored the first five points to take a 36-31 lead, Marcus scored the next nine points, although it took them nearly seven minutes to do it. After Marcus missed two free throws with nine seconds remaining, the Patriots got the final attempt. They got the ball to Jones, who drove the left baseline and attemped a short floater, but it hit off the back iron and out, and Marcus had its championship.
10:17 pm: Marcus 40, Lakeview Centennial 38, Final
The Marcus Marauders are state champions.
In the final seconds, Nick Banyard missed a couple of free throws for Marcus, giving the ball back to Lakeview Centennial with nine seconds left, down by only two. Chris Jones had carried the load all day for the Patriots, and he drove down the left side of the baseline and tried a little pull up shot and missed it. Marcus Smart grabbed the rebound as the clock expired, spiked the ball to the floor, and then ran toward the other end of the court and did a cartwheel into a backflip.
We'll have more in a few minutes ... I have to get out to the court for post-game interviews.
10:12 pm: Marcus 40, Lakeview Centennial 38, :30 seconds left in the game
Marcus Smart has scored the last four points for the Marauders. They have the ball and a two-point lead with just seconds remaining.
10:07 pm: Lakeview Centennial 36, Marcus 34, 2:42 left in the third quarter
The pace has gone sluggish again, but Centennial holds a two-point lead as we near the finish line.
The Patriots scored the first five points of the fourth quarter, so their total run ended up being 27-to-2. Chris Jones is the only LC player in double figures, with 19 points. Marcus Smart hasn't scored in the second half (of course, his team has scored only five points), but he still leads the Marauders with 11.
9:55 pm: Marcus 31, Lakeview Centennial 31, after three quarters
What can you say about Lakeview Centennial?
At halftime, there was doubt whether they would even be able to score a total of 31 points in the game, much less have a chance to come back and beat Marcus. But the Patriots outscored Marcus 22-2 in the third quarter and came all the way back to tie the game.
LC was able to find the frenetic pace they like. Their press began to really bother Marcus; that hadn't been the case in the first half. With eight minutes still to play in the game, Marcus already has 21 turnovers.
We are in for a heck of a finish.
9:19 pm: Marcus 29, Lakeview Centennial 9, Halftime
After scoring 87 points last night, and scoring more than 20 points in three of the four quarters, Lakeview Centennial has been completely smothered.
Marcus held the Patriots to just two points in the second quarter ... two. LC is now 4-for-24 from the field, and 1-for-10 from beyond the arc. Neither team has been to the free throw line.
The Marauders continue to shoot well. Marcus Smart is 5-for-6 (11 points), Conner Taggert is 4-for-4 (8 points), and Austin Bianco is 2-for-2 (5 points).
It's adjustment time for Lakeview Centennial. We'll see whether LC coach Tony Mauldin has anything up his sleeve.
9:15 pm: Marcus 24, Lakeview Centennial 9, 2:15 left in the second quarter
Marcus is putting on a defensive clinic. LC has made only four shots so far, while missing 16.
Offensively, the Marauders have been impressive too, shooting 55%. Phil Forte hit an early three-pointer but has gone cold, and AJ Lucky is 0-for-2, but the rest of the team has missed only one shot.
Marcus Smart has been brilliant so far, 11 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 assists, with still a couple minutes to go before halftime.
9:10 pm: Marcus 18, Lakeview Centennial 7, 4:31 left in the second quarter
Whatever momentum LC had at the end of the first quarter is gone. Marcus has scored the first eight points of the second, and lead by 11.
Marcus' defensive effort has been complete, and is not being aided by a slow-down offense. They are pushing the ball, and when they get into a half-court set, they are looking for a shot early in the possession.
9:00 pm: Marcus 10, Lakeview Centennial 7, end of first quarter
LC's Chris Jones appeared to make a statement from the opening tip. The Patriots won the tip, got the ball to Jones, who drove into the lane and hit a little pull-up jumper, for a quick 2-0 lead. Right off the bat, LC attacked the interior of Marcus' defense and converted.
And then they missed their next eight shots.
Meanwhile, Phil Forte and Marcus Smart hit a couple of three pointers to give Marcus an early 10-2 lead. The Patriots rebounded at the end of the quarter by scoring the last five points.
8:30 pm: Pre-game
This should be an interesting game, although that doesn't guarantee that it will be.
Marcus plays defense better than anybody. The Marauders don't mind slowing the pace down on offense, but head coach Danny Henderson told me earlier this week that his team will run if the opportunity is there. On defense, Marcus doesn't go for steals necessarily, they just play everything tough. Henderson said that they want to make difficult everything their opponent is trying to do.
Lakeview Centennial likes a faster pace. They scored 87 in their win in the semi-finals, and played absolutely zero defense in the second half, allowing 58 points to San Antonio Northside Taft. But the Patriots do play with a tremendous amount of energy, and they seem to like a frenetic pace.
Usually in this kind of match-up, the defensive team has an easier time playing to its pace than the up-tempo team (simply because they can slow the pace down every time they have the ball). We'll see whether Marcus can do this, or if Lakeview Centennial can dictate the pace.