Boys basketball: Marquette regroups the troops, bests Henry-Senachwine at Bader

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OTTAWA – After a frustrating 16-point loss Wednesday night during a Tri-County Conference matchup at Dwight, Marquette Academy head basketball coach Todd Hopkins knew his team had to make some improvements, especially in terms of shooting percentage and rebounding.

The Crusaders did just that, vastly improving from their lackluster performance against the Trojans to earn a rock-solid, 55-42 TCC victory over Henry-Senachwine on Friday evening at Bader Gymnasium.

Marquette (14-5, 3-2 TCC) hit on 22-of-40 (55%) of its shots taken as opposed to 33% against Dwight. The Crusaders also outrebounded the Mallards 32-22 after suffering a deficit of a dozen on the boards Wednesday in order to regroup after the difficult league loss 48 hours earlier.

“There were some things we needed to clean up after Wednesday’s loss to Dwight, and I thought we played a little more loose, came out with a little more fire, but we still have a ways to go,” Hopkins said. “We’ll take it for sure and keep plugging away from here.”

Senior post player Beau Ewers led the way for Marquette with 12 points, while juniors Griffin Walker and Logan Nelson each added 10 tallies that aided senior Brady Ewers’ contest-best eight rebounds.

The Mallards (3-13, 0-4 TCC) saw a contest-best 15 points off the bench from senior P.J. Ehrat and nine tallies off the hands of junior Colton Williams.

But HSHS went cold shooting after trailing by only five at halftime and could register a mere five markers in the third period and ultimately a total of 17-of-51 (33%) throughout the contest while also losing the board battle.

“Marquette went to a zone defense in the third quarter, and we couldn’t knock down a shot, and that definitely hurt after we’d been right in the game at halftime,” HSHS coach Randy Westerdahl said. “But after tonight, I know we’re getting better and doing things these kids have never done in their lives.

“In two years since I took over as head coach, I’ve seen these guys improve in a big way. We’ve got a long way to go, but I’m sure proud of our effort tonight against a very tough Marquette ballclub.”

During a high-energy first quarter, Nelson pumped in seven points including a three-point play at 4:30 followed by a bucket at the four-minute mark and another deuce at 1:10 that helped put Marquette ahead 20-16 after eight minutes.

But Ehrat played solidly off the bench to score nine points in the second stanza, including a free-throw-line jumper at 5:05 and another deuce at 3:15 that gave the Mallards a 27-26 lead.

“He (Ehrat) was in his first game back due to injury in awhile. He’s our leading scorer, and he sure made a difference in the first half tonight,” Westerdahl said.

However, the Crusaders scored the last six points of the first half to take a 32-27 lead into the locker room.

Then during a low-scoring third period, Marquette extended its lead to 41-32 with eight minutes to go as Beau Ewers chipped in with low-post buckets at 2:55 and 2:20. Marquette held the Mallards to only five points.

Walker helped spur a 14-5 Crusaders run with long-range triples at 5:00 and 4:20 that eventually put the home team ahead 55-37 with under three minutes to go in the final frame.

“[Walker] came in the fourth quarter and gave us a nice boost with his shooting, and that’s what his job is, to give us that shot in the arm like he did tonight,” Hopkins said. “From there, we had a nice lead and closed it out like we needed to do.”