MORGAN TWP. — Talk about leaving no doubt.
In Friday's semifinal game, Marquette Catholic coach Katie Collignon spoke about how its defense wasn't up to snuff in the opening half.
In Saturday's Class A sectional championship, it was clear early that defense was going to be no problem.
A clear barometer of that was the first defensive possession when the Blazers forced Morgan to pass for two minutes before getting a shot blocked. Behind that stifling effort and outstanding games from the Nolan twins, the state top-ranked Blazers rolled to their third straight sectional crown in a 68-31 drubbing of the host Cherokees.
"Our defense brought it from the tip and that was the main focus," Collignon said. "I told the girls that our defense can be so scary good. I know we're gonna get our points on the offensive end and we came in really locked in and focused on defense and obviously it paid off in that first quarter and in the game."
The Blazers (23-2) led 15-8 midway through the first and would score the next 13 points carrying over into the second quarter as they blasted out to a 40-14 halftime lead.
Emma Nolan already had a double-double at the half with 22 points and 10 rebounds. Sister Sophia added 15 of her 17 in the first half, also finishing with a double-double adding 10 rebounds.
"I'll be honest, that's probably the best I've ever seen two high school girls play at the same time, they were on fire," Morgan coach Scott Adams said. "Their post moves aren't even high school level, they're college level. I really wasn't upset with our girls as far as the defensive effort we gave, you sometimes just gotta hand it to the other team. We knew if they both went off like that, then it'd be a difficult night for us."
Emma Nolan hit four 3s on the night and finished with 33 points and 13 rebounds.
"They make it a lot easier for me, I'll tell you that," Collignon said. "They're just so versatile and such good scorers and they really wanted it. They came out really ready and focused. We knew it was going to be a battle and we wanted to make sure we weren't overlooking anybody and Morgan came out and gave us a nice test. Those two are just so hard to guard because they're 6-foot-1 and can come out and shoot and then pass it down low. They've done such a great job all year and hopefully it continues."
Sophia Nolan added 17 points and 10 boards, adding four assists to her sister on high-low action.
"We thought they'd take it away and then we started playing and they weren't," Sophia said. "The first one I passed to her I realized we were gonna be able to do that a lot and I just kept dishing it to her. We were all so focused in the first quarter and we were just so determined to get this win out of the gate."
Emma Nolan has scored 30-plus in back-to-back outings as the twins continue to give every team fits. Dia Rallings added 11.
"I'm the person that kinda hypes everyone up, so when our offense is flowing then it gets everyone else going," she said. "Our little guards like Dia Rallings got open to get easy buckets and we just focused on being patient and getting the open look. We knew we out-sized them a lot and they couldn't do anything to stop it so we pounded it inside. Once they started double-teaming, we were able to kick it out.
Emma actually outscored every sectional opponent.
"Sophia and I are both versatile so we used that to our advantage," she said. "Our main focus tonight was playing good team defense and not letting them get to the paint. We needed to close out and get out on shooters and we dominated that."
Talia Bee led the Cherokees (20-6) with 13.
"The unfortunate thing is that the predicted state champion was in our sectional," Adams said. "There were two or three other sectionals going on where we've already beat the winner this season and that's just how the cookie crumbles sometimes unfortunately. We'll have to take some satisfaction of winning the PCC tourney and round-robin and making it to the sectional final. We just ran into a really hot team."