Marquette slows Noll’s roll
HAMMOND — The future might belong to Courtney Blakely and Bishop Noll, but the present still belongs to Marquette and the Nolan twins.
The Warriors’ talented sophomore guard flashed some of her brilliance on her home floor Thursday, scoring 24 points in the G2 Mac Jelks Invitational, but prevously-unbeaten Noll was no match for Emma and Sophia Nolan, who combined for 58 points, including a career-high 38 by Emma, as the Class A No. 1 Blazers rolled 78-55.
“I love Courtney. We’re best friends. We train together sometimes in the summer,” Emma Nolan said. “She’s a very talented player. She puts in the work. I just knew I was going to have to score because Morgan (Crook) was going to be tired from locking down Courtney.”
Blakely got her points, as coach Katie Collignon stressed, the Blazers (15-1) didn’t make it easy on her, with Crook, their lockdown defender for standout opposing guards, on the chase.
“Morgan’s our quickest defender and I thought she did a great job,” Collignon said. “I told the girls at halftime, she’s probably going to score 20, 25, she can’t have 25 and 10 assists. That’s what was happening. That’s what will lose you the game. Put your hands up, make every shot hard for her, which I don’t think we did (in the first half). If she makes it, she makes it. They have really good players. We can’t just put our heads down when they hit shots and come back and turn it over. We kind of fell apart a couple times, which is not really like us. I was proud we were able to bounce back.”
Noll (14-1) was on the ropes, down 28-12 in the second quarter, but sliced the margin to five by the half as Blakely banged three 3s.
“At halftime, we had to regroup, talk about team defense, shutting down Courtney, having help side,” Emma Nolan said. “Normally, we tend to not relax, but if we have a long week, we’re not mentally prepared, we tend to lean back and we have to snap back into reality. Coach K was like, wake up, team defense, let’s go.”
Marquette (15-1) saw its lead momentarily dip to three but nudged it to nine by third quarter’s end and ran away with a 22-8 fourth.
“We got out quickly and were able to execute on the offensive end,” Collignon said. “We talked about slowing the game down a little bit. We wanted run the floor, but if we don’t, let’s run some offense. We just knocked down more shots in the second half as well.”
Particularly Nolan, who hit four 3s and was 10-of-11 at the line.
“I knew she was on fire,” Collignon said. “She’s just that type of player who when she plays with that kind of energy, is ready to score, she’s one of the best players you’ll see. She can score from anywhere. The same with Sophia. She’s 6-1, she can also rebound and score at the time. She’s just so hard to guard.”
Sophia Nolan scored 20 and Crook 11.
“We tend to want to shoot the ball as soon as we first get the rotation,” Emma Nolan said. “When we get the ball to flow, quick passes, we get those open shots. Teams have to worry about Sophia shooting, Morgan shooting and driving. We’re all scorers on the team, so when we get the ball moving, there’s going to be someone open. It just tends to be me because they’re more passers (than me).”
In addition to her points and defense, Crook had five assists and five rebounds.
“She’s really grown a lot, just her confidence level,” Collignon said. “She was second-guessing herself sophomore, junior year. This year, she’s come into her own. She knows she can take care of the ball, knock down the big shot, also play pressure defense. She kind of goes silently because the twins are so good and get all the accolades, but without her, we wouldn’t be the team we are.”
The win was Marquette’s 15th in a row since an opening loss to 4A Indianapolis North Central.
“It’s 2019 now,” Collignon said. “The learning curve needs to come to an end here in the next couple weeks. We’re really working on the mental stuff because talent-wise, we’re looking pretty good. If we can control it between the ears, I like our chances.”
Marquette 78, Bishop Noll 55
Emma Nolan scored a career-high 38 points.