CHICAGO HEIGHTS | Some days, it’s your day.
Saturday was the day for Marian Catholic’s girls basketball team in its rivalry with Marist. The Spartans scored a 68-48 victory over their East Suburban Catholic foe in a game that was never close.
With only two seniors, the RedHawks are young, but Marian would have beaten any team by double-digits on this afternoon. The offense worked, the defense worked harder, and the only thing that Spartans coach Dan Murray can get on his team about was free-throw shooting.
Marian (14-4, 3-0) was merely 4-of-12.
“We had to come out with intensity against Marist,” senior Ashton Millender said. “We couldn’t underestimate them.”
The Spartans didn’t. It was a long day for Marist (9-9, 0-3) from the start, when Kauai Bradley hit an uncontested basket for Marian 23 seconds in. The first of Millender’s four 3-pointers made it 5-0 before a minute had elapsed. One turnover later, Marist coach Mary Pat Connelly had seen enough.
“I knew you guys weren’t ready!” Connelly said to her charges during a timeout 100 seconds after the opening tip.
She was right. It was 26-6 after a quarter and 44-20 at the half.
Marian, led by Millender’s 20 points, enjoyed a 64-26 lead and 29-17 rebounding advantage after three quarters, which was it for the starters. The Spartans shot 50.9 percent in those three quarters, and held Marist to 34.4 percent from the floor while forcing 13 turnovers.
“Our execution was the best of the season,” Murray said. “We did a great job on the glass. We knew Marist had some size.”
Only Katelyn Rosner, a 6-foot-1 sophomore, used it to advantage, pulling down eight rebounds. But that effort and Madison Naujokas’ 16- point showing from the bench were the only bright spots for the RedHawks, which was coming off a victory over Mother McAuley.
For Marian, it was the first game after the first real layoff of the season, a chance for Murray, who replaced Annie Byrne just before the season, to reinforce his principles.
“We’d played nine games in two weeks,” Murray said. “We were able to work on the little things, the execution phase. They’ve been very open and hard-working to get it down.”
Teniya Page added 15 points, all in the first half, on 6-of-8 shooting for Marian, while Dajhae Williams scored 11 on 5-of-7 shooting.