MICHIGAN CITY — Saturday’s regular-season finale between Lighthouse and Times No. 1 Marquette Catholic came down to the fact that there is only one Daijah Smith compared to two Nolan sisters.
Smith scored a game-high 30 points, but couldn’t overcome the powerful duo of Emma and Sophia Nolan as the twins combined for 49 points and 24 rebounds and the Blazers closed out the regular season with a 78-41 win over the Lions.
“(Daijah) had a height advantage of (Marquette defender Morgan Crook), so we just tried to bring helpside defense every time,” Sophia Nolan said.
“Helpside was the key part of the game plan against her,” Emma Nolan added.
The Nolan sisters dominated the first quarter as Sophia scored the first five points of the game before giving way to her twin sister. Emma, who came off the bench due to Senior Day festivities, scored six points and grabbed five rebounds in just over three minutes of action in the first quarter.
“I love (senior) Amani (Corral) and was pumped to see her get the start,” Emma said. “I was ready to contribute when I came in the game.”
Emma had 15 points and nine rebounds by halftime as the Blazers (20-2) opened up a 34-16 lead at the break. Crook knocked down a pair of 3-pointers in the second quarter and finished with nine points and seven assists, but her biggest contribution of the game was slowing down Smith.
“I’m regularly tasked with guarding the best player and we went through the scout quite a bit,” Crook said. “She can drive, she can shoot, she can do it all. We knew she’d get her points, we just needed to make sure she couldn’t get easy baskets.”
Smith, who committed to Indiana State last summer, shot 10 of 26 from the floor and 5 of 11 from the 3-point line. The senior scored 16 of her game-high 30 points in the third quarter, but was absolutely gassed by the end of the game as an injury to Lyric Ward (ankle) and fouls left the Lions (12-10) with just five available players for much of the fourth quarter.
Sophia Nolan scored 13 of her 24 points in the third quarter. Emma Nolan added 10 points in the second half and finished with 25 points and 17 rebounds.
The win marked Marquette’s 27th straight home victory dating back to Jan. 26, 2015 when the Blazers fell 50-43 to Elkhart Christian. The home winning streak has persevered through three head coaches and lasted three years and a day. While the Nolan twins have never lost a home game, senior Mackenzie Marovich remembers going through a 9-15 season her freshman year when the Blazers lost five home games.
“This is our house and going undefeated here is a big thing. We have a lot of goals and that’s one of them,” an emotional Marovich said after her final home game. “I chose to come to here and I made a home here and a family on this team. I don’t want to say goodbye to my family. It’s an honor to play with them and to play at Marquette.”
Smith also eclipsed 2,000 points for her career in the loss.