INDIANAPOLIS — The first 3-pointer that Claire Salyer hit drew a raucous cheer from the Marquette Catholic bench, with players and coaches standing on their feet.
The shot helped open the third quarter for Marquette and boosted the Blazers' confidence. When Salyer, who averages 2.7 points per game and hit 26 buckets this season heading into Saturday's Class A girls basketball state championship game against Vincennes Rivet, hit another 3 to end the quarter, Marquette's fans couldn't stay in their seats.
Salyer came off the bench to score nine points as Marquette Catholic won its first girls hoops state title, 38-31.
"For sure it gave the crowd and the team a big boost," Salyer said. "It made us play better."
The junior Salyer and sophomore Ally McConnell were the only players off the bench for the Blazers (27-2) and were used extensively as starters Sophia Nolan and Emma Nolan were in foul trouble. Marquette's bench scored nine points to Vincennes Rivet's one.
"All season long, (Claire has) come in and she's been our energy," junior Emmery Joseph said. "She hit some huge ones tonight and I'm so proud of her. She kept telling me as we got a little out of focus, 'we just have to keep our energy up.' She was such a big boost for us today."
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Salyer's nine points matched her season best, which she notched against Oregon-Davis in the sectional and LaLumiere in the regular season.
"They could see on the floor that we're missing the drive and there's layups to be had," coach Katie Collignon said. "You have a better perspective sometimes on the bench. Claire could see the drive is open, well if they see the drive they're going to fly out. I think she did a good job of taking what the defense gave her. She did such a good job of coming in and being kind of a calm presence for us."
McConnell, who was used as an inside threat while the Nolan sisters were in foul trouble, recorded game bests with three steals and two blocks.
"I tried to zone out the crowd and not let it really affect me," Salyer said, "but hearing the bench, that always boosts my energy."