HEBRON — Basketball comes down to the team who makes the most shots. That’s the important thing.
But it’s the way Marquette Catholic (12-14) and Hebron (12-9) rebound the missed tries that help make them tough matchups.
The two will meet in the Class 2A Sectional No. 34 finals at 6 p.m. Saturday after wins over Winamac and North Judson, respectively, showed just how important controlling the glass can be.
“It’s going to be a battle,” Hebron coach Mike Grennes said. “We’re going to try to do what we do well, but they do a lot of things well. … It’s going to be a back-and-forth type of deal.”
Marquette Catholic coach Fred Mooney goes out of his way in practice to express the importance of getting to the loose ball in his position-less basketball coaching philosophy. That commitment to crashing the glass was on full display in his team’s 66-40 win. They outrebounded Winamac 24-18 despite making 11 more field goals.
“That was one of the things that we focused on (Friday),” Mooney said. “We knew that we wanted to rebound well because if we rebound we can get the outlet going and start turning the floor. If we can’t rebound, it limits what we’re trying to do.”
The Blazers ran away and hid from the Warriors (13-8) in the second quarter behind an outburst of three quick 3s by junior point guard Colin Kenney. He finished the game with five made 3-pointers, 23 total points and six assists.
“It’s all about timing,” Kenney said. “When we needed buckets, we were grabbing the ball and getting it to come our way so we could make shots.”
Kenney certainly did. He couldn’t help but take notice that his own long-distance shots were dialed in and felt comfortable letting the ball fly.
“I mean, I realized that pretty early and just let the game come to me,” he said. “Shots were just falling.”
Senior forward Chandler Goodwin put in a big-man’s effort on the glass with 10 rebounds to go along with nine points. The bulk of those grabs off the glass came thanks to his reluctant pursuit of the loose ball in the paint from wherever he stood.
That type of effort encompasses exactly what Mooney wants his team to do.
“He doesn’t play 5-11,” Mooney said of Goodwin. “That first step is just really fast, and that allows him to do what he does against bigger kids.”
Hebron’s 50-33 win against North Judson wasn’t quite as comfortable as their championship game opponents’.
The Blue Jays (9-12) came out of the gates hot, especially in the painted area, and took a 17-10 lead into the second quarter. The Hawks’ defense tightened, and their commitment to working the ball through the paint slowed the pace up to a point where they regained the lead by halftime and pulled away in the latter stages of the game.
“In the first half, we took some adjustments,” Grennes said. “But in the first half we started running. We got out on them. We got some easy looks. We made them rush their shots, that kind of stuff.”
The Hawks pair up 6-foot-5 senior Logan Ryan and 6-5 junior Carson Roeske in the post alongside one another. That type of traditional post size allows them to control the paint and also poses a philosophical counter to Marquette’s position-less look.
The matchup, on paper, makes for a coaching chess match that could come down to which team can get the other out of its element and dictate the tempo for itself.
“It’s a heart thing,” Grennes said. “You’ve just got to want it more.”