NC State signee Julius Mays and Wolfpack verbal Scott Wood are heading to the state finals after Marion defeated South Bend Riley 64-53 in the Class 4A high school semistate championship.
Senior Julius Mays led the way, scoring 28 points on 10-of-15 shooting including 16 first-half points (on 7-of-8 shooting) that helped the Giants take a 32-21 halftime lead. Connecting on all three of his 3-point attempts, Mays proved to be the difference.
"Our plan early on was to attack the basket hard," Mays told the South Bend Tribune. "Hitting those first couple shots really fired me up and gave me the confidence needed to knock down some outside shots as well (3-of-3 from 3-point range)."
"Julius Mays is worthy of any postseason awards he gets," Marion coach Joe Luce told the Journal and Courier following the game. "He showed why he's going to North Carolina State. He showed why he is a Mr. Basketball candidate. And Wood stepped up and hit big 3s and that's what he does."
Wood, just a junior, chipped in 13 points and a game-high eight boards while drilling 4-of-8 3-pointers for Marion. He started out cold, missing his first four attempts from behind the arc, but ended the game knocking down his final four, including a deep 3-pointer minutes into the third quarter that gave Marion a 40-24 lead, their biggest advantage.
“My teammates did a great job of encouraging me,” Wood told the Marion Chronicle-Tribune. “I was (0 of 4) and losing confidence in myself, but they said keep your feet down. It doesn’t matter if you miss your first 40 because the next one is going in.
“(Riley) didn’t give me much room around the 3-point line, so I had to step back and see if I could hit them."
"I think Scott was a little mad at himself early," Mays told the Journal and Courier. "I told him I was going to keep coming to him no matter what and I got him the ball and he kept hitting."
Marion (24-4) will face Brownsburg (21-5) in the state title game. Brownsburg defeated No. 1 ranked and previously undefeated New Albany 51-41 to advance to the finals. The game will be played next Saturday at 8:00 pm at Conseco Fieldhouse, the home of the Indiana Pacers.