OTTAWA – Nine days since its first game of the season, the Marquette Academy boys basketball team showed very little rust and a whole lot of energy to open Friday night’s Tri-County Conference lid-lifter against Lowpoint-Washburnn at Bader Gym.
The Crusaders jolted to an early lead and extended it throughout a dominating 66-41, running clock win over the previously unbeaten Wildcats to improve to 2-0.
“We played hard the entire game, which was great to see,” Marquette coach Todd Hopkins. “We didn’t always play as smart as we should have, but hey, it’s only our second game, and we were playing a team with a lot of confidence that came in here 5-0 to start the season.”
Marquette held a 14-4 advantage midway through the first quarter after consecutive 3-pointers by Denver Trainor and Carson Zellers. Blake Hjerpe then netted seven points to help the hosts close out the opening stanza with a 22-9 lead.
Lowpoint-Washburn was just 3 of 10 shooting and committed seven turnovers in the first eight minutes.
“When you play Marquette, you know it’s going to be physical,” Lowpoint-Washburn coach Zachary Weber said. “We talked about it at practice (Thursday) and before the game about how we were going to handle that style and how we were going to handle their defensive pressure. We obviously didn’t handle things as well as I had hoped.
“We hadn’t faced a team yet that really gets up into your grill defensively like Marquette, and it showed right from the start. I could see we were tense before the jumpball and then were overall just very timid from there. We gave them too many easy looks at the basket, especially in the paint.
“We just didn’t have an answer for a lot of things Marquette was doing to us on both ends of the floor.”
Marquette opened the second quarter with four points from Alec Novotney and a hoop each from Peter McGrath and Hjerpe to push the lead to 29-11. Griffin Dobberstein then splashed home a 35-footer at the halftime horn to give the home team a comfortable 36-17 cushion.
“We did some good things tonight. We played pretty good defense, we took some charges, we rebounded well, and we were on the floor for every loose ball. It’s nice to start the conference season off on the right foot.”— Todd Hopkins, Marquette Academy boys basketball coach
The Crusaders then scored 19 of the first 21 points of the second half and led 63-28 heading to the fourth quarter.
Charlie Mullen and Novotney each scored 13 points to led Marquette, the former also grabbing five rebounds and blocking a shot; the latter posting nine rebounds, three assists and three steals. Hjerpe finished with 11 points, Zellers had 10 points, four rebounds and three assists, Trainer notched eight points, Dobberstein had six points, and McGrath tallied five points and five assists.
Marquette finished hitting 54% (26 of 48) from the field and held a 30-25 rebound edge, but hit just 6 of 17 from the free-throw line. LPW shot 36% (15 of 42) and committed 18 turnovers.
Lowpoint-Washburn was led by 13 points and five rebounds from Evan Schumacher, 12 points from Baylor Steffen and 11 points from Clayton Grebner.
“(Kody) Knecht and Grebner are two really good players, two guys we said we didn’t want to hurt us, and I think we held them combined to six points through three quarters,” Hopkins said. “We obviously have to get much better from the foul line, and we had a few too many bad passes, but I really liked the effort the guys gave tonight. ...
“We did some good things tonight. We played pretty good defense, we took some charges, we rebounded well, and we were on the floor for every loose ball. It’s nice to start the conference season off on the right foot.”
Marquette is back in action Monday at 5 p.m., taking on Bureau Valley in pool play of the 49th Colmone Classic Hall Holiday Tournament.