The elite eight

February 20, 2019

ST. JOHN -- A glance at the score sheet of Tuesday night’s Marquette-Lake Central boys basketball game will show the Blazers scoring a big 76-65 win on the road behind 11 three-point baskets – eight of them coming from senior guard Colin Kenney, who also led the way with a game-high 35 points.

However, coach Fred Mooney said the offense only told part of the story in his team’s victory over the Class 4A Indians (10-12), who were coming off a nine-point win over Duneland Athletic Conference rival Crown Point.

“Our shooting was good, but that’s not why we won the game,” Mooney said. “I felt we got some good stops, we hit the boards hard, and the ball was moving. Our ball movement and body movement was really good.”

That ball movement resulted in two other players also scoring in double figures for the Blazers – Dayn Staab (13 points) and Joe Andershock (11). The pair was equally effective on the inside in helping to neutralize Lake Central’s two 6-foot-5 threats, Dominic Ciapponi (15 points) and Dawson Cheney (six).

“Dyan Staab played a good game,” Mooney said. “He really had a good game defensively and on the boards as well as offensively.”

Marquette (13-8), now on a three-game winning streak, jumped out to a 21-15 lead after eight minutes and 39-35 halftime lead on strength of Kenney’s 17 first-half points and five 3-point baskets. In all, six Blazers made offensive contributions in the first half and five in the second half.

Kenney’s eight baskets from behind the arc tied a personal best.

“When I started hitting my shots early, I knew it was going to be a good night in hitting my 3s,” he said. “This was a huge win for us, to come and play together as team on both ends of the floor. We came with intensity, made the plays we needed to make, and came out with the win.”

Mooney also singled out the unseen contributions of senior guard Jalen Russell, who chipped in with six points, as big catalyst in the win.

“Something that nobody but the team could see: Jalen Russell in practice just busted his rear end, and that set the table for how we want to play,” he said. “Sometimes you don’t always see the players making the contributions between the lines, but the team is everybody.

“Kudos to what he brought in practice and how he played as well.”

Russell said he simply wants to make a positive impact for his teammates.

“As a senior, I just want to lead the team to the best of my ability,” he said. “I just brought intensity all week. I want to see us get back to semistate, which we advanced to when I was sophomore. We have good team chemistry, and we’re all close to each other.”

Lake Central (10-12) almost matched Marquette from behind the arc. The Indians, who were led by Nick Anderson’s 23 points and five 3-point baskets, drained 10 long-distance shots on the night. For a moment in at the beginning of third quarter, the Indians looked ready to take the momentum.

The Blazers committed two early turnovers, and Mooney called a time out to calm his team down. From that point, the Blazers started to build up a bigger lead and grabbed their first double-digit lead of the game on a Kenney three to go up 57-46 with 1:15 left in the third.

“I didn’t like the way we started the third quarter,” Mooney said. “We were a little flat and committed two quick turnovers. But our kids responded.”

Mooney said Tuesday’s effort is good sign with only a game left in the regular season to play on Friday at home against Goshen and admits that season has had its share of ebb’s and flows.

“We’ve been up-and-down,” he said. “We beat the No. 1 team in the state of Ohio and then one of the top teams in Indiana, Mishawaka Marian, after they had just beaten Culver Academy. Then our shooting went south and the defense went flat. It’s good to see us rebound now heading into the second season.

“I know what these kids are capable of; it’s just a matter of getting it out of them all of the time. They’re going to give the very best all of the time, but they still are just kids. But It’s just nice to see them play together and have fun. They love each other, and they’re learning to play with each other.”

Marquette Catholic 76, Lake Central 68

Colin Kenney scored 35 points for the Blazers.

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