NORMAL | Marian Catholic junior forward Ashton Millender had her shot Friday night.
Now, the third-ranked Spartans will have their shot.
Behind a season-high 29 points from Millender, Marian Catholic dismantled defending champion Whitney Young, 63-39, in the Class 4A girls state basketball semifinals at Redbird Arena, putting the Spartans in position to capture the school’s first girls basketball state championship Saturday night.
“I knew our team was ready to come out to play just from the way we were yelling and screaming in the locker room,” sophomore point guard Teniya Page said, “but I didn’t know the gap was that big until I saw the scoreboard after the game.”
Marian will try to avenge the season’s only loss when it meets No. 7 Rolling Meadows (30-3) in the 8:15 p.m. title game. Marian lost to Rolling Meadows, 61-55, on Dec. 28 in the Lombard Montini Christmas Classic.
Senior forward Megan Walsh remembers the game well.
“It just seemed like they got hot and our defense let down a little bit late in the game,” said Walsh, who had a game-high 15 rebounds. “I think we can take them.”
Millender scored 16 points in the first half to help the Spartans (32-1) to their 19th consecutive win and position them with a chance to win a state crown. Marian’s best state finish was a second-place trophy in 2002.
The Spartans frustrated Whitney Young (26-5) inside the lines and out. Senior point guard Linnae Harper, a first-team Associated Press all-stater, was held to nine points — more than 10 points below her average. The Dolphins shot just 14 of 52 from the field and 8 of 22 from the free-throw line.
"I thought Ashton did a phenomenal job on (Harper)," Marian coach Annie Byrne said. "She did a good job of staying in front of her and staying low."
Meanwhile, Whitney Young was whistled for three technical fouls, including one on coach Corry Irvin.
Millender scored nine straight points in the first quarter — three driving baskets and a 3-pointer from the corner — to give Marian a 12-2 lead with 1:20 left.
“It was fun,” Millender said. “I just got some momentum. I knew I had to keep shooting the ball.”
She finished 10-of-15 from the field, including two 3-pointers, and 7-of-10 from the line.
Senior Melanie Ransom buried a 3-pointer from the corner to give Marian a 34-14 lead with 4:55 left in the third quarter.
Harper was 1 for 6 from the field in the first half, while the Dolphins shot just 4 of 21 (19 percent) as a team.
Walsh hit two baskets from inside the lane, and Ransom banked in a 16-footer to give Marian a 22-8 lead with 3:27 left in the second quarter.
"Feels really good, especially since we couldn't beat Whitney Young my freshman and sophomore years," Walsh said, "and this year we finally did."