GIRLS BASKETBALL

Walsh, Marian teammates looking for a trip to Class 4A finals

2013-02-24T18:00:00Z 2014-05-20T21:45:24Z Walsh, Marian teammates looking for a trip to Class 4A finalsMike Nieto mike.nieto@nwi.com, (219) 933-3232 nwitimes.com
February 24, 2013 6:00 pm  • 

When it looked like Marian Catholic's girls basketball season was about to be over on Thursday, Megan Walsh knew as a captain, she had to step up.

She had hide her emotions and encourage her teammates.

In the Class 4A Mother McAuley Sectional final, Marist's JeTaun Rouse hit what appeared to be a game-winner with 2.8 seconds left.

Marian called a timeout and the players were devastated.

"I told them, 'It's not over, one more play,'" Walsh said. "As a captain, I had a sick feeling when that shot went in, but I couldn't show it."

Walsh hit Ashton Millender with a long pass and Millender sunk a 3-pointer at the buzzer for the 54-52 win.

"My job as a captain is to make sure everyone stays on an even keel," Walsh said. "You have to keep them together when there is a tough situation."

Marian coach Annie Byrne said Walsh has proven those leadership qualities through her three years on the varsity.

"Megan has been one of the best captains I've had here," Byrne said. "She makes sure everyone is on the same page, and goes out in practice and pushes herself. I think the younger kids see that and it rubs off on them."

The Spartans (30-1) put their 17-game winning streak and 2013 undefeated streak against Peoria Richwoods (26-6) at 7:30 p.m. today in the Class 4A Illinois Wesleyan Supersectional.

Marian is making its fourth trip in five years to the supersectional, and will be looking to make its first trip since 2007 to Illinois State's Redbird Arena for the state finals. It would be the Spartans' first state appearance since the Illinois High School Association went to four classes.

What Walsh also does as a captain is take care of things off the court. Much like former Marian captain Caitlin Pauley, who was considered the team "mom," Walsh makes sure everyone is taken care of. She organized a sleepover at her house before the season and enjoyed putting it together.

"We played cards and other games which made you work in pairs -- teamwork," Walsh said. "It was important that we get that bonding and with the younger kids, I think the seniors have to have that responsibility to make everyone feel a part of the team."

The 6-foot-1 senior will play at Truman State next year and is averaging 8.3 points, 7.2 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game.

"Megan has been a great post player in that she works to get the rebound," Byrne said. "She isn't concerned with how many points she has, but is concerned with getting the rebounds, blocking shots and playing defense."

Walsh learned how to play the post from 2011 Times Player of the Year Simone Law, who is at Loyola.

"She showed me the inside moves and how to box out for rebounds," Walsh said. "Simone and (assistant coach) T-Mack (Toneisha Mack) has worked with me quite a bit and it has helped."

But Walsh and her teammates are not done.

"We want to get to state and win it," Walsh said. "(Tonight) is going to be a tough game and we have to be ready to play."

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