MORGAN TWP. — Different year, same championship game.
For the third straight season, Marquette Catholic and Morgan Township will meet in a Class A Sectional Championship as both clubs won their semifinal games handily:the host Cherokees defeated 21st Century 70-13 and the Blazers beat Westville 63-21.
In the opener, Morgan forced turnover after turnover and led 29-2 after one and 50-2 at half. The Cherokees (20-5) scored 51 unanswered points at one point.
"We started the season looking at our team and realizing we're young but that we had a ton of athletes that could run," Morgan coach Scott Adams said. "We really spent a lot of time perfecting our press. It's something we're definitely thinking about using moving forward because we really think if we can get out and run then it gives us a chance to open the floor."
Morgan had 10 of its 11 players score as the starters sat the second half. Talia Bee had 14 points followed by Macy Chayhitz's 11 off the bench. Emma O'Brien added nine points and five steals and Karlie Lemmons snagged 13 rebounds.
"We know we have a Herculean test (Saturday) against Marquette," Adams said. "We thought if we could build a nice lead early and rely on role players to close the game that it could be an advantage for us."
Leading 22-14 in the second quarter, the top-ranked Blazers (22-2) rattled off 14 straight points to end the half on their way to another blowout victory.
"That all started with our defense," Marquette coach Katie Collignon said. "I was really disappointed with our defense in the first quarter and really, the first half. We gave up some offensive boards which is very unlike us, and we just weren't very locked in on the defensive end.
"We get really excited sometimes and think we can score all these points, but when it doesn't happen then we get down and our defense gets sloppy. I thought we did a better job coming together playing defense like we know how and that fueled our offense."
Emma Nolan led Marquette with 30 points, including 22 in the first half. She added seven rebounds.
"(Emma Nolan) does such a great job and she makes herself open and available," Collignon said. "She works hard for every basket. She makes it look really easy when it isn't and not a lot of people can do that. She's a versatile scorer and a tough kid who does a great job on both ends."
Sophia Nolan added a double-double with 16 and 11 rebounds. Morgan Crook and Emmery Joseph each dished out four assists.
Marquette has won the last two sectionals by 15 and 16 points.
"We're going to have to play very well and better than we did tonight," Collignon said. "(Morgan) sat most of their starters in the second half, they'll be ready. We'll have to bring the defense we've brought every game this year and make sure we're running on all cylinders on offense as well. We're definitely going to have to bring it from the opening tip."
The Cherokees said they know the task is tall, but they'll be ready for the challenge.
"We're obviously going to have to shoot well and we're really going to have to play as a team," Adams said. "Looking at Marquette on paper, they don't beat themselves, so we're going to have to match that. I think turnovers are going to be a big deal for us and not giving them second chance points. That's easier said than done when they have two of the best rebounders in the area down there.
"We match up better with them than a lot of Class A teams because we have guards and bigs, and the girls have some experience in the final, which also helps. It'll be a fun game and hopefully we bring our A-game because if we don't, I think everyone knows how it's gonna go. If we do bring it, it'll be competitive and we'll see where it falls. All season we've been working towards getting a chance to play them and I think a big reason why we played so well this year is that we're trying to get to the level Marquette is, that's pushed us all year."