FULTON — Trailing 2-0, Marquette Catholic faced its first deficit in four games in the state tournament.
That deficit wouldn't last long though as the Blazers scored the next 13 points on their way to a 27-9 first-quarter lead with Emma and Sophia Nolan and Morgan Crook combining for all 27. Each of them would finish in double figures, including 22 from Emma Nolan, as Marquette dispatched Oregon-Davis 68-42 in a Class A Caston Regional semifinal.
"We played O-D earlier in the year, so we knew we were going to get a battle here and we had to make sure to be ready to go," Marquette Catholic coach Katie Collignon said. "(Oregon-Davis) is a very momentum-driven team. We wanted to start off nice and quick, especially on the defensive end. I thought Emma and Morgan did a great job just working out of our offense, getting easy shots and knocking them down."
Crook's first five points sparked the early Marquette as she posted seven points and seven rebounds in the first half as the Blazers (24-2) led 36-20 at the break. The junior guard totaled 13 points, nine boards and four assists.
"This is a big game and you always feel that," Crook said. "No matter how many times you've been in this situation, no one can explain how it is once you're actually in it. I think a lot of that first half energy came from our nerves. We probably needed to slow it down a little more but I think as a team we really regrouped and it went pretty good.
"Coach K really prepared us for this game and we ran a lot of their plays in practice and knew they'd be jumpy and active on defense. We know any team at this point can come out and beat us if we don't play the way we should play."
After a first half of 13 points and seven boards, Emma Nolan added nine and six in the third quarter to finish with game-highs of 22 points and 13 rebounds. Sister Sophia added 15 points and seven rebounds.
"If it's not broke, don't fix it," Collignon said. "They both do a great job and no matter what the defense is, they take what the defense gives them. We were really focused this week on what Oregon-Davis was going to do defensive and where the openings were going to be and they both did a great job executing."
Claire Salyer scored nine points and snagged seven rebounds off the bench for Marquette. Amani Corral had six points and six boards in the fourth quarter.
"Anytime you see a kid come off the bench and score, defend, I think the other opposing coaches are like 'oh my gosh, there's more,'" Collignon said. "They've been working hard all season long to get those minutes and they deserve them. Claire and Dia Rallings did a great job and Amani Corral is a senior that also does a good job for us. I think if we're playing well and momentum is going in our direction, they play even better and that's great for us.
"It makes us so much better," Crook said. "A lot of times, people will double down and face-guard the twins so we have to have guards that contribute and score so they can't just leave us wide open and double team them. Our guards being confident to score is going to help us a lot if and when we get farther in the tournament and that'll open up the twins more in the end, too."
Jayden Worthington led the Bobcats (13-13) with 16 points. Katelyn Sauer had 15 points.