HEBRON — Fred Mooney’s decision to step into the head coaching job at Marquette Catholic is paying dividends.
And he’s a better dancer because of it.
Mooney, who replaced former head coach Donovan Garletts after last season, led the Blazers to a fifth consecutive sectional championship with a 58-54 win against Hebron in class 2A Sectional No. 24. Marquette will take on Andrean in the first round of the North Judson Regional on March 10.
After the final buzzer sounded and his Blazers secured the sectional trophy, Mooney took his place in the center of his team’s huddle. He paused for a moment and proceeded to dance like his players do after introductions.
“He’s been telling us he wanted to show us his moves,” junior point guard Colin Kenney said. “He did the old dance. He said our new dances aren’t cool.”
Cool or uncool, Mooney’s spent more than four decades around high school sports and isn’t about to stop having fun.
“My guys don’t think I’ve got it,” Mooney said, smiling while holding the net he cut down seconds before.
Mooney spent 35 years as the Athletic Director at Hammond Baptist before joining Garletts on Marquette Catholic’s basketball staff. While at Hammond Baptist, Mooney won 410 games. He coached 16 years of basketball in addition to 11 years of football.
The decision to join the Blazers’ staff as an assistant in 2011 wasn’t made with the intention of inheriting the head coaching duties half a dozen years later, but that’s how the process played out.
So far, year one is going according to plan.
“We’ve just all bought into what he says and what he teaches,” junior forward Joe Andershock said. “We love him as a coach on and off the floor.”
Mike Grennes’s Hawks pushed Mooney’s coaching to the limits in the sectional finals.
Marquette Catholic (13-14) twice built up a double-digit lead only to see Hebron (12-10) claw back within two points, 51-49, with 95 seconds left courtesy of sophomore Ethan Drook’s 3-pointer.
With the game on the line, Mooney turned to Kenney, his point guard. That wasn’t much of a secret.
Kenney responded with an and-1 and then a pair of free throws to ice the game. He finished with 25 points.
“I’m very comfortable in that situation because my teammates trust me,” Kenney said. “That’s the biggest thing is my teammates trusted me, and I’m willing to do what I need to do.”
Senior forward Carson Roeske led Hebron’s effort with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Sophomore guard Jake Friel only scored three points but dished out seven assists and picked off three passes for steals.
The Hawks’ effort to climb back into the game made for an exciting ending that fell just a couple of buckets short.
“I thought our kids played hard defensively,” Grennes said. “They didn’t give up. They didn’t quit. My kids just played their butts off tonight. They played hard and got after it and didn’t quit. Even when we got down, we fought back. They put it all out there tonight.”
Marquette now owns three Class 2A sectional titles and a pair of Class A crowns over the last half decade. The Blazers have been a perennial area power with larger goals in mind beyond Saturday night.
But until regional practice next week, Mooney is content to celebrate.
These were the moments he took the job for, after all.
“I’d first like to thank God for this win and for this opportunity to be a coach,” Mooney said. “Coaching is all about relationships, and I’ve built a very strong relationship with these fine young men here at Marquette, and I’m grateful for that and all we have.”