ST. JOHN — It was the opening weekend of girls basketball in Indiana, but Lake Central and Marquette Catholic got a little head start on postseason preparation at the Lake Central Classic.
Coming off 53-47 loss to Class 4A No. 3 North Central, the Times No. 3 Indians were able to bounce back in the nightcap grinding out a 34-27 victory over Times No. 2 and Class A No. 1 Marquette Catholic.
Lake Central (1-1) held the Blazers, who beat Elkhart Central 69-44 earlier in the day, to 10 first-half points adding 10 steals.
"We did very good defensively, and it's one of our points of emphasis," Lake Central coach Joe Huppenthal said. "Marquette will be a tough out in Class A and they're good, trust me. I have to give our kids credit because it was a tough game this morning and they could have had their daubers down in this one, but they came back and fought and got a win (Saturday night).
Emma Nolan had 14 points to lead Marquette, after scoring 26 in the first game. Sister Sophia had 10, having earlier dropped 34 with eight 3s.
"Our kids did a really good job on defending the Nolan's and obviously, they're really good" Joe Huppenthal said. "We couldn't give them any catch-and-shoot looks and every time we did, they kind of made us pay. You can can only take away so much but we made adjustments as we went along. When you can hold them to two and five points at the half, that's a pretty good job."
Lake Central took some momentum into the half as Taiylour Kirkwood hit a runner and then a buzzer-beating three to put L.C. up 17-10. Kirkwood led the Indians with 12 points.
"Her shots at the end of the first half really gave us a lift," Huppenthal said. "The biggest thing she did though was her job defensively on their point guard, (Emmery Joseph)."
L.C. pushed its lead out to 11 with a Emma Nolan putback mixed in between an and-one and 3-pointer from Lauren Ladowski, who added 10 points and four steals. Ladowski had all seven L.C. points as the Indians took a 24-20 lead into the fourth.
A Sophia Nolan three broke the scoreless fourth quarter and brought the deficit briefly to one before a Rachael Robards three out of an L.C. timeout. Nolan's bucket in response was again answered, this time on a Ladowski 3-pointers.
Emma Nolan's basket made it 30-27, but the Indians finished off the game at the line with four free throws.
"We responded and we were smart about taking good shots and we were patient," Huppenthal said. "We have to get a better flow offensively, but part of that is who we've played, too. It's only game two so it's about getting back to work, and watching film to get better. These games were good for us, it was two tough teams getting us ready for February."
For Class A Marquette Catholic (1-1), far and away the smallest school in the field, it was about not being able to capitalize when it had the chances for coach Katie Collignon.
"We had a two-on-one when we were down one and we threw it away in the bleachers. That was kind of the game we had (Saturday night)," she said. "It was our time to maybe seize the moment and then we turn it over after getting a stop and we don't want to see that, especially in a close game. I thought we did a poor job of seizing the moment when it was ours to take.
"Our composure really wasn't there. That was kind of our Achilles' heel last year when we were down and we didn't make the key plays to get back up, like getting a stop on defense or getting a rebound. We have to make those plays but luckily it's just the first couple games, there's a lot of learning still.
Collignon spoke of the way the Indians' wore on the Blazers.
"We knew coming in they were going to be one of the best defensive teams we're going to face all year," Collignon said. "Joe does such a great job on the defensive end with those girls and you can tell. They came in super physical, especially with the Nolan's in the post, and it kind of took us out of our flow.
"We played defense for about three minutes at a time on a couple of occasions and they'll keep working offensively. If something isn't there then they won't force something and they'll just run it again until they break you down. We didn't do a great job of was being in the passing lanes and making them do anything different, that's what I was disappointed in."