MARION, S.C. – Marion’s All State junior forward T.J. Sanders scored a game-high 20 points and pulled down 17 rebounds in a 73-56 win to sweep rival Mullins on the season Wednesday night. The Swamp Foxes also got a big lift defensively from guard Saeqwan McCollough, who added a scoring punch of his own with 15 points.
Mullins jumped out to a 13-9 lead in the first quarter before Marion rallied back to take a 17-16 lead to end the quarter.
A three-pointer by Zy’aire Charles pushed the Marion advantage to 26-20 at the 3:55 mark in the second quarter. Marion finished the first half with a 34-28 advantage.
Mullins managed to put up a fight early off the play of senior forward Shaq Gordon, scoring eight of his 13 points in the first half. Tyler Sainvil led Mullins with 15 points, scoring 10 points of his own in the first half.
The Swamp Foxes outscored the Auctioneers 19-14 in the third quarter and pulled away in the final quarter increasing their lead 67-47 with three minutes remaining in the game.
Marion coach Leon Johnson said his team had to play their best game with Mullins coming off a win against Conway.
“We were on all cylinders,” Johnson said. “Everybody played a great game on defense.”
Johnson said the team is adjusting well to a new system and doing a lot of movement without the basketball.
The Swamp Foxes are off to a 4-1 start to the season thanks to their core players in Sanders, shooting guard Mac Washington and point guard A.J. Vaught.
“It was a good win,” Sanders said. “I haven’t had a start like this my whole career.”
Sanders said he is trying to do what he can to win and recognizes the growth playing alongside his teammates.
“I’ve been playing with them all my life,” Sanders said. “It’s just easy and second-nature now.”
Vaught added 12 points for the Swamp Foxes and has been having a breakout year with multiple 20-point games.
“I feel like I’m playing a little more freely this year and not hesitating on things so much,” Vaught said. “I think we’re doing great. The first game was a little test and just showed we have to listen to the coach more.”
Washington chipped-in with eight points and is happy about the team’s hot start.
“I think we’re coming together well,” Washington said. “We’re doing a lot more talking than we usually do and in practice we’re starting to pick-up the intensity.”
Washington said he feels the team’s chemistry is getting better and they can achieve more if they work hard.
Marion (4-1) will host Conway Friday night.
Mullins (2-3) hits the road at Lamar Thursday.