No. 1 for a reason
MICHIGAN CITY — In most instances, a 10-day layoff from game action hurts the flow of a team’s functionality, but No. 1 Marquette Catholic isn’t like most teams in Indiana high school girls basketball and Friday night was a perfect example of how they’re not.
The Blazers, behind some red-hot outside shooting at the outset, hammered Class A No. 4 Oregon-Davis 81-52 at home in their first matchup in a week and a half after wins in two of their first three games this season.
“I told the girls all week, ‘My gosh, we need a game,’” Blazers coach Katie Collignon said after her team’s 29-point rout. “You can only practice against each other and I can only come up with so many drills that’ll keep them interested for so long, so we were pretty excited to have a game tonight.”
Collignon’s excitement could be pin-pointed by the fact that the Blazers raced out to a 16-point advantage at 19-3 in the game’s opening few minutes behind a blistering start from beyond the 3-point line. It wasn’t exactly what Collignon wanted to see within the flow of the offense, but something she’ll gladly take in the end.
“We came out on fire, which is always nice,” Collignon said. ”(When) we hit shots, a lot of other things can go by the wayside, but I thought we really came out shooting the ball well. Our goal wasn’t to rely on the 3-point shot actually early on in the game, but luckily we hit back-to-back-to-back threes so it all worked out. The girls did a really good job. We’ve shot a lot in practice because we’ve had 10 days off, it’s our gym, so I think they just felt comfortable.”
One of the main catalysts in the hot start was senior guard Morgan Crook, who hit four of her six shot attempts from long range in the opening 16 minutes of action, to go along with her usual ferocity on the defensive end, forcing a pair of steals among countless other details on the other end of the floor.
“Our defense was good, but our defense was lacking a little bit on the shot,” Crook said after the win. “They had a lot of points. 52 points isn’t really the game we want to play – it’s the low-scoring games, but in the beginning I thought we played really well. We knew what style they were gonna play because we’ve played them before a few times. We really tried to game-prep before and I thought we did a really good job executing.”
The Blazers beat the Lady Cats 68-42 in the regional semifinals at Caston last season on their way to the state title and knew that the No. 4 team in the class would look to muck the game up a bit with their physical style and tenacious approach.
“I know they’re scrappy,” Crook said. “It’s always a tough game whenever we play them. It’s kinda back-and-forth. It’s definitely a little more intense when you play people like that.”
Along with Crook’s contributions on both ends and a strong 16-point, eight-rebound outing from senior guard Claire Salyer, the Blazers got the usual from star Emma Nolan, who along with sister Sophia, continued to climb up the all-time Marquette Catholic scoring leaderboard.
Sophia was in early foul trouble and finished with just eight points on 3-of-6 shooting, but Emma picked up the production with a dominant 25-point, nine-rebounds performance that moved her up to third place on the scoring list (1,488 points) behind Sophia (1,513) and Valparaiso’s Ryan Fazekas (1,562).
“We’re still learning,” Collignon said, noting a focus on the defensive end. “We’re still not at our best form on defense, but a great effort. I thought it was a great effort team defense-wise and I’m just really proud.”
(Note: The Nolan twins were not made available for comment after the game.)
Reach Michael Whitlow at firstname.lastname@example.org or (219) 214-4169. Follow him on Twitter @couldbelikemike.
MARQUETTE 81, OREGON-DAVIS 52
Mercedes Rhodes 5-8 6-7 21, Jayden Worthington 7-12 2-7 16, Cassidy Stout 4-9 1-2 11, Katelyn Sauer 0-6 0-0 0, Sydney Williams 0-4 0-0 0, Kynsey Lyles 0-1 0-0 0. Totals — 16-40 9-15 52.
Emma Nolan 8-13 6-6 25, Claire Salyer 6-14 0-0 16, Morgan Crook 4-7 0-0 12, Sophia Nolan 3-6 1-1 8, Dia Rallings 4-8 0-2 8, Ally McConnell 2-3 2-2 6, Emmery Joseph 1-3 0-0 3, Ukari Payne 1-2 0-2 3, Jorden Goodwin 0-1 0-0 0. Totals — 29-57 9-13 81.
3-point shooting — Oregon-Davis: 7-21 (Rhodes 5), Marquette: 14-31 (Crook/Salyer 4). Leaders: Rebounds — Oregon-Davis 22 (Williams 5), Marquette 35 (E. Nolan 9). Assists — Oregon-Davis 8 (Sauer 3), Marquette 19 (Joseph 6). Steals — Oregon-Davis 5 (5 players had 1), Marquette 8 (E. Nolan 3). Blocks — Oregon-Davis 0, Marquette 1 (S. Nolan). Turnovers — Oregon-Davis 13, Marquette 12. Fouls — Oregon-Davis 15, Marquette 15.
Marquette 81, Oregon-Davis 52
Six different players for the No. 1 Blazers hit at least one 3-pointer in a 29-point rout of No. 4 Lady Cats on Friday night.