A splendid Senior Night
MICHIGAN CITY — With 2:52 left in the opening period, Goshen coach Michael Wohlford took a quick 30-second timeout with his team trailing host Marquette after an 11-4 start for the Blazers following a right corner triple from senior star Colin Kenney.
“How does the all-time leading scorer in Marquette history get that open?” Wohlford rhetorically asked his team in the huddle loud enough for much of the gym to hear.
On Friday night, it really didn’t matter if the RedHawks had a hand in Kenney’s grill or not because everything was falling for the Furman signee.
The 2018 Indiana Junior All-Star led the Blazers charge with a game-high 32 points on 11-of-16 shooting, including six 3-pointers in 10 attempts, to help give the Blazers their 14th win of the season in a 65-51 victory on Senior Night.
“It means a lot to me to end with a bang with this being the final time playing on this court,” Kenney said of a hot shooting night that continued from a 35-point performance where he hit eight triples earlier in the week in a win at Lake Central. “Once I saw the first one go down, it felt good. I kinda found my rhythm, I starting looking for my shots and they started falling for me.”
After missing a couple attempts to start the night out, Kenney banged home two right corner triples late in the first and then early in the second period to force another Goshen timeout as the leaded extended to eight. The Blazers eventually pushed the lead to 33-18 at the intermission behind Kenney, their quickness on the defensive end and superb ball movement in the half-court offensively, resulting in seven first-half assists.
“That was part of the game plan going in,” Blazers coach Fred Mooney said on his team-wide effort that saw a tweak in his usual rotation due to the final home game for nine seniors. “The kids obviously want to win and I felt confident enough in some of the guys that normally don’t get that much playing time that we could get them in the game early. We started Jalen Russell over Jake Tarnow. Jake had a good spirit and Jalen played well. He rebounded well and did some nice things for us.”
Along with Russell’s intangibles on both ends, senior forward Karsen Grott stepped up in the first half with seven points while Joe Andershock was saddled with two early fouls.
Despite a 15-point deficit with 16 minutes to play, ithe RedHawks (8-14) flew out of the half with the energy and momentum, as they rode big man Bryant Robinson (30 points, 10 rebounds) to trim the lead to five off a 14-4 run with under four minutes to play in the third.
Even with Robinson’s Herculean efforts, it was Kenney that would make the difference, as he cashed home two 3s on back-to-back possession. The second make, a definite heat check, was from way behind the 3-point line and hit nothing but nylon, pushing the lead back to nine and haulting any chance of a comeback from the visitors after the Blazers’ 14-4 run.
“That’s something I think I’ve always been able to do is hit timely shots for our team,” Kenney said. “That’s another thing that my team trusts me to do and that means the world to me. When they have trust in me, that gives me more confidence to step up and knock down shots.”
Before and after the victory, the Blazers (14-8) honored their senior group, leading to a sparkling review from their head coach.
“Coaching is fun because of its challenges,” Mooney said. “Coaching is fun because you get the chance to mold precious young people into something God intended them to become. Basketball is a great tool. These kids love basketball. They love each other. They’re fun to be around. They’ve got good mannerisms. And they’re not bad basketball players either. It’s a honor to coach at this level at this fine institution with these fine young men.”
One win down and one more to go for Kenney, his teammates and the Blazers community, as the weekend for Marquette shifts to Indianapolis today and the girls in the Class A state championship game against Vincennes Rivet.
“We’re gonna get some chants together,” Kenney said with a smile. “We’ll figure it out when we all get there. I think the theme is Blazer Wear, so we’re all just gonna go and wear our Blazer stuff. Once we get down there, we’ll show ’em what we’re about for sure.”
Reach Michael Whitlow at firstname.lastname@example.org or (219) 214-4169. Follow him on Twitter @couldbelikemike.
Marquette 65, Goshen 51
Colin Kenney scored 32 points for the Blazers.