The ring is the thing

November 7, 2018

MICHIGAN CITY — Say this much for Katie Collignon -- she sure can hold a secret.

Despite efforts from Blazers players to get her to cave, the Marquette Catholic girls basketball coach kept the team’s state title rings out of sight for several months until the presentation ceremony prior to Tuesday’s game with South Bend Career Academy at the Scholl Center.

“They were locked in my office,” Collignon said. “I didn’t want one person to know and the next person not know. The girls begged me, but I wanted them to be surprised. I wanted them to get them and think, oh, gosh.”

Mission accomplished.

“It was a surprise. I was like, whoa,” sophomore Ryleigh Grott said. “Right as I got mine, I opened it. It was so cool.”

Collignon had originally hoped to present the rings in the spring, either at a baseball game or graduation, but the initial order came in wrong, so she didn’t have them until June, after school was already out.

“I wanted the stone on top,” she said.

The blue stone included inscriptions of IHSAA state champs with the person’s last name, a basket, the team’s record and 2018 on the outside with full names engraved on the inside of the ring.

“I had no idea,” Ally McConnell said. “It’s going on my shelf next to my state medal.”

Mackenzie Marovich, a senior on the state team, watched from Centre College in Kentucky via her mom Susan’s I Phone.

“I’m just happy I was able to watch all my friends as they accepted their state ring,” Marovich said via text. “It’s really an emotional moment to finally see the ring and realize all that we accomplished. I’m blessed to be a part of what we did last year and I’m really excited to see them get back to Bankers Life this year.”

As for the game, SBCA, a fledgling program with five wins in five seasons, had the misfortune of being Marquette’s opponent on the night of the celebration, and provided no resistance in an 84-7 election night landslide.

“I inherited this game,” new coach Cedrick Joseph-Pauline said. “I didn’t know what we were walking into until the last minute. If I had known, I would have said no, we can’t take this caliber of offensive power. When I looked it up, I said, oh man, the twin towers. Like I told (Collignon), we were thankful for the opportunity. It’s great for our kids to see what that level looks like. They’re a well-oiled machine.”

SBCA committed 42 turnovers and didn’t score until the 1:03 mark of the second quarter, at which point Marquette led 47-0.

“We’re not here to make anybody feel bad,” said Collignon, who also notched her 50th coaching win. “We’re out here trying to get better. If we can score through our offense, let’s score, but we don’t need to make it fast-break layups all day. I thought we did a much better job scoring out of our offense the second half.”

The Blazers also had scoring runs of 12 and 21 as Collignon rotated groups of five throughout the game. Ten of her 11 players scored.

“We actually tried to slow down and run our plays,” McConnell said.

Emma Nolan had 20, Sophia Nolan 16, Grott 12 and McConnell 10. Claire Salyer had eight steals, six rebounds and four assists for Marquette (2-1).

“It’s our first home game, so I was just happy I got to go in and play,” Grott said.

While the ceremony may put a punctuation mark on the state-championship season, it will still serve as a reminder going forward.

“Those are such fond memories,” she said. “We use that to motivate us every single day. We hope we can be here and do this again the same time next year.”

Marquette 84, South Bend Career Academy 7

Emma Nolan had 20 points for the Blazers.

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