SENECA – Throughout this girls basketball season, Seneca senior Kennedy Hartwig and Marquette junior Lilly Craig have been linchpins in their teams’ early success, especially on the offensive end of the floor.
Both were again at their absolute best Monday evening in Seneca, as each scored 23 points.
But Hartwig’s great night proved a bit more damaging than Craig’s fine performance. The Fighting Irish standout connected on six 3-pointers and scored eight points in the third quarter that sparked Seneca’s 19-9 run in the quarter in a come-from-behind, 52-48 Tri-County Conference triumph.
The Irish improved to 7-2 overall, 4-0 in the TCC.
“I got in the gym last night, because I wasn’t feeling my shot as much over the last few games,” Hartwig said. “But I definitely felt it tonight and found a rhythm, and we were able to rally back in the third quarter and hold on for the win.”
Hartwig got some great help from Alyssa Zellers’ nine points, Lainie Olson’s eight points and Ella Sterling’s five points and game-high 11 rebounds.
“Kennedy was very good tonight and put in a little time over the weekend, and it showed against a tough Marquette team with a great player in Craig,” Seneca coach Brian Holman said. “If she doesn’t hit those six 3s, we probably would have been in big trouble. But in addition to that, we also had some sophomores with Zellers, Olson and Sterling that really learned what a big game was like on the fly, so credit to them too.”
Marquette (5-3, 2-1 TCC) saw Craig hit a trio of triples along with seven deuces. Ten points from sophomore Avery Durdan and six from sophomore Keely Nelson were added, but the Crusaders couldn’t match the Seneca surge in the second half.
“We had a great first half, but we turned the ball over too much in the second half,” Marquette coach Eric Price said. “They outscored us by 10 points in the third quarter, and that was the big difference, and that period has proven to be our weakness so far this season.
“But I’m proud of the girls, and we fought hard until the end.”
Craig went wild in the first quarter, scoring 12 points, including a pair of 3s to give the Cru a 19-13 lead after eight minutes of play.
Hartwig countered with her third and fourth 3s at 7:45 and 2:45 of the second to cut the Seneca gap to 20-19 before Nelson canned a pair of left baseline 3s at 1:45 and with 10 seconds left in the half to lift the visitors to a 28-23 advantage at the break.
But with the Irish down 32-27 in the third, Hartwig spurred a 15-5 Seneca rally with a top-of-the key 3 at the five-minute mark, and a left-wing 3 at 2:05 before Zellers stole the ball and scored with 17 seconds left in the quarter to put the Irish ahead 42-37 entering the fourth.
“We were good on defense in the second half, and my team was there to help me,” Zellers said. “I got my hands on the ball, and I was able to take it in, and we had a lot of confidence from there.”
Craig scored eight more points, including a bucket off her own steal to tie the score at 46-all at the 3:50 mark in the fourth quarter. However, Hartwig and Zellers drained a pair of free throws down the stretch in crunch time, with Zellers hitting her two with 20 seconds to go that iced the win for Seneca.
“I had to lock in, and my hands were shaking a little bit, but it was all good after I made both of them,” Zellers said. “I was so happy I could contribute in such a big conference win against Marquette, but we couldn’t have won without the big game Kennedy produced for us.”