CALUMET TWP. | As the loud Calumet Fieldhouse saw the clock winding down in the fourth quarter, Bishop Noll coach Drew Trost had one thing to say.
And on this Saturday night he kept saying it over and over again. There was a championship on the line.
“Keep working,” Trost yelled. “Don't stop working. Keep it up.”
In the Greater South Shore Conference tournament championship game against Marquette Catholic, Times No. 3 Noll did not have the offensive appeal the Warriors had in their previous two GSSC tournament titles.
This one looked more like the graveyard shift at U.S. Steel. Muddy steel-toed boots. A rusty lunch bucket. A group of young men waiting to finally punch the clock.
Noll did just that with a 63-50 rugby-like win, earning the Warriors their third straight GSSC tourney title and fourth out of the last five.
“I preach that all the time,” Trost said. “Sometimes you have an off night on offense and things aren't clicking. But you can still win games with tough defense and great defense.
“I thought we had that tonight.”
It wasn't like the Warriors (13-0) were shooting bricks. Larry Crisler scored 12 of his game-high 19 points in the first quarter as Noll took a 25-18 lead.
“I want to come out shooting, we want a good start,” Crisler said. “This is a good feeling. But sectionals will be better.”
But the Blazers (9-4) nailed four 3-pointers in the opening quarter, two by Braxton Miller and two by Nate Flores. The Warriors picked up their perimeter defense after that, and Marquette did not make another trey.
Noll's Tyreon Gates scored 14 points and grabbed 13 rebounds. He won Noll's Blue-Collar Award on this night.
“It was very physical,” Gates said. “We knew it would not be easy with their two bigs (Ryan Fazekas and Jasmin Biberovic). We knew we had to play defense and get rebounds.
“The three-peat as conference champs is great, and 4-out-5. This is a great feeling.”
JoVonte Peals led Marquette with 14 points. Fazekas added 13.
“Marquette''s a tough team,” Trost said. “They're going to be tough to beat in (Class) 1A.”
Trost also spoke highly of Matt Sandoval, who hit three 3-pointers and scored 15 points. Two of his 3s were in the third quarter, helping his Warriors extend their lead.
“I'm all about the little things,” Sandoval said. “I have to play defense, get assists and get rebounds. The points will come. (Crisler) and I were on the team that won the (GSSC) title back after we lost it.
“A three-peat is a big thing. We're proud of that.”