MARIETTA — This season, the Marietta Lady Indians have had to endure everything imaginable.

MARIETTA — This season, the Marietta Lady Indians have had to endure everything imaginable.

From a 13-game losing streak, to constant tough losses against ranked opponents, the Lady Indians have been put through the ringer.

However, Friday night at the Marietta Gymnasium showed it was all worth it.

Entering their district championship contest as an underdog against Valliant, the Lady Indians fought back and walked away with a 35-28 victory, and a district title.

Valliant entered the contest with an overall record of 14-6, while the Lady Indians were 5-16 on the season.

“We’ve been tested all year long, and these girls took lumps along the way,” Marietta coach Josh Drinning said. “We work them hard in practice everyday, and they continue to give us everything they have. We played outstanding defense all game long. These girls deserve this.” 

Defense was definitely the theme of the first quarter, as both teams combined for 10 total points.

At the end of the quarter it was Marietta clinging to a slim 6-4 advantage going into the second.

Near the end of the first half, it appeared as though the Lady Indians offense was gaining confidence and momentum going into the break.

Marietta led 13-6 with 1:22 left before halftime, only to see the Lady Bulldogs close the second quarter out on a 4-0 run to cut the deficit to 13-10.

Just 23 seconds into the third quarter the game was tied at 13-13, but Marietta regained the advantage just over three minutes later at 15-13.

After two more ties, the Lady Indians used the last 2:09 of the third quarter to build a 21-17 lead, thanks in part to Vanessa Sanchez scoring four of her six points in that span to give Marietta an advantage going to the fourth.

As the final frame began, Marietta expanded its lead to 24-17, before Valliant got to within four at 24-20 with 5:04 remaining in regulation.

However, the Lady Indians never looked in serious danger of relinquishing their lead, as they responded with an 8-3 run, giving them a comfortable 32-23 lead with less than two minutes to go.

The nine-point lead was matched once again at the 1:20 mark of the fourth at 33-24.

Ashley Flores led the Lady Indians with a game-high 23 points on the night.

“We’ve heard so many negative things this season, and no one expected much from us this year,” Flores said. “I’m proud to be apart of this team, and I’m proud of these girls. I just wanted to win tonight and make something happen each time I went down the court.” 

Vanessa Sanchez finished with six points, with Hannah Taylor scoring four points and Bailee Gray adding two points. 

“Ashley (Flores) is just a natural born leader,” Drinning said. “I couldn’t be more proud of her and how she played tonight. She just kept making plays out there, and is just overall a great person.”

“We’d told our girls all week long this was going to be a close game,” Drinning added. “At halftime we challenged the girls to work hard on defense since a lot of our shots weren’t falling. They responded like we wanted them to.”

Marietta will now move into the winners bracket of the regional tournament phase, where the Lady Indians will face off against either Kingston or Lindsay Thursday night at 6:30 p.m. at Kingston High School. 

A victory would see Marietta play Saturday night, while a loss will mean a game on Friday at Washington.