No Joe, no problem

January 9, 2019

MICHIGAN CITY — Team effort is an overused cliche in sports, but with Joe Andershock’s 13 points and eight rebounds per game out of the lineup as a result of a mild concussion, Marquette was going to need more than just Colin Kenney to extract a win from Washington Township on Tuesday.

“That’s a lot to replace,” Blazers coach Fred Mooney said. “We were worried certain kids might try to do too much. We didn’t need to do that. We’ve got other players on the team capable of putting the ball in the basket. They’ve just got to believe in the system -- it works -- and shots will come easy. When we have five guys playing together, good things happen. I thought the kids responded.”

Kenney poured in 30 points, Karsen Grott stashed 11 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter and Marquette came one basket from putting its starting five in double figures as it downed the Senators 77-69.

“Everybody stepped up and filled the gap overall,” Kenney said. “When we’re getting all the team playing their role, doing their thing, we play really well. It’s huge to win without Joe and Vaunte (Johnson).”

The 6-foot-7 Andershock took a Grott knee to the head late in Saturday’s game and is going through concussion protocol. With the Blazers off until a week from Friday, he may not miss another game. Johnson (academics) is expected to be out a few weeks.

“Someone had to pick up the slack,” Grott said. “Not just me, the whole team. That’s what we get when we play as a team. It shows how good we can be even though Joe’s out.”

While Kenney was strong throughout, the fourth quarter belonged to Grott, who took advantage of the attention his all-star candidate teammate was getting by drilling open 3s. He went back to back from deep to break the game back open after the Senators had closed within 65-63 inside of four minutes left.

“Of course they know who Colin is,” Grott said. “They’re going to crash him. He’s a great point guard. He finds open guys. I happened to be open, he found me and I knocked down shots. I started gaining a little confidence for sure.”

The game had a free-flowing, summer-ball pace from the start with little defense at either end. Washington (7-3) drilled seven of 15 3s in the first half, which it led throughout. Its largest margin was 11 (32-21) but a Jake Tarnow 3 and a Dayn Staab and-one helped the hosts pull within 42-36 at the break.

“We talked about it at halftime,” Mooney said. “We wanted to come out and pressure the ball, deny the first pass and stop their cutters. We still didn’t do a good job stopping their cutters. I think everybody in the gym heard me say that one or two times. That’s part of the package they have to believe in. We have to bring it.”

In the second half, they did, using an 18-0 run to turn a 44-36 deficit into a 54-44 lead in a span of five-plus minutes.

“We came out with a lot more intensity on defense,” Kenney said. “Jalen (Russell) brought a lot of spark and we fed off that. That got everything going. Once our defense gets going, it gets the offense going. I got in my rhythm. Karsen stepped up huge, Jake has been playing really consistently lately, Dayne played really well offensively and defensively.”

Washington scored seven quick points before a crossover stepback 3 by Kenney took Marquette to the fourth up 57-51.

“We talked at halftime about matching our intensity in the second half and unfortunately we came out flat the first five minutes of the third quarter and we could not quite recover,” Senators coach Scott Bowersock said. “They hit some very timely shots when we were only down in the fourth and it seemed like they hit everyone of those shots.”

Bowersock wasn’t too far as Marquette (9-4) sizzled from the arc (14-of-27), including 6-of-11 by Kenney and 5-of-6 by Grott. Staab finished with 13 points, Tarnow 10 and Russell eight to go with eight rebounds.

“It helps when we start moving the ball, finding the open guy,” Mooney said. “I don’t mind us shooting the outside shot. The movement’s just got to be there first. That sets the table for the shot.”

Colin Burton topped Washington with 20 points, followed by Austin Darnell and Zach Brys (15 each).

Marquette Catholic 77, Washington Township 69

Colin Kenney’s 30 points led all scorers.

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