CHICAGO HEIGHTS | Ashton Millender's first shot of the night — a 3-pointer, of course — spun around the rim, mashed the glass and rolled in.
When she saw that, did she think it was a good omen?
"No, that just means I'm close," she said.
So when she missed her next three, she didn't think maybe she should start dishing it off.
"Nawww," she said, smiling. "My coach and my dad would get mad.
"I know I'm a shooter. I've got to keep shooting. That's what I do."
So she did, as did her teammates for Times No. 2 Marian, which shook off a 3-of-17 shooting effort in the first quarter to overwhelm Bishop McNamara 70-41 in a key East Suburban Catholic contest Monday night at Casey Court.
The Spartans (20-4, 7-0) travel Wednesday to face conference co-leader Joliet Catholic. McNamara (18-4, 7-2) saw its hopes for a three-way tie slip away.
Or, more accurately, the Fightin' Irish saw those hopes get buried in Marian's highest-scoring quarter of the season, a 32-point onslaught delivered in the third quarter.
The Spartans hit their first eight shots of the period, along with three free throws in a 22-5 run that took their 25-20 halftime lead and made it 47-25. For the quarter, they were 12-of-14 from the floor, including 4 of 6 from 3-point range.
"We felt we were getting good looks in the first quarter," Marian coach Dan Murray said. "We've got some very good shooters. If we continue to get good looks like that, we're not going to continue to miss.
"The girls did a good job of keeping their composure."
The Spartans actually started heating up in the second quarter. After going 1 of 6 from 3-point range in the opening quarter, which ended with McNamara up 9-7, Marian got all its points from beyond the arc in the second, going 6-of-8. Millender hit three of her four long-range efforts on her way of going 6 of 9 from 3-point range for the evening and scoring a game-high 25 points.
Gabby Cooper, getting extended minutes after Jerell Matthews went down with a knee injury late in the second quarter, added 11 points and hit 3 of 4 3-pointers, while Teniya Page had 10 points and nine assists. Kauai Bradley had four steals, including a pair on the Fightin' Irish's 's first two possessions of the third quarter.
McNamara was led by Jenna Stauffenberg and Hanna Mitchell with nine points each.