OTTAWA — Part of the reason the Marquette Academy boys basketball squad has been so stellar throughout this season is all the hard work put in at practice day in and day out, but that's not just by those players the fans see listed in the boxscore after every game. In addition to the five starters and three top reserves in the rotation for the Crusaders, there are seven others who toil just as long, just as hard.
And for many of those seven, Friday's Senior Night was their time to shine.
Cru coach Todd Hopkins, as is his policy, started all seniors in the next-to-last home game and throughout all nine of them contributed to an easy 56-24 running-clock win over visiting Lowpoint-Washburn here at Bader Gym.
Two of the usual suspects, Logan Komater and Jack Snook, led MA with 11 and 10 points, respectively, but the reserves-turned-starters left with a 10-9 lead after one quarter and outscored the Wildcats 6-5 in the fourth to hold up their end of the win. In the middle, the Cru starters ran past the visitors 40-10 to ensure the one-sided decision.
All of the Crusaders posted an outstanding defensive effort, forcing 26 L-W turnovers, holding it to 26.4 percent shooting from the field and snaring a 37-29 edge on the boards to jump to 23-2 overall and 8-0 in the Tri-County with one game left, at home against rival Seneca next Friday.
Because the Irish lost to Roanoke-Benson this Friday for its second defeat in the league, Marquette still needs to win next week to avoid dropping into a tie with Peoria Christian, whose only loss was to the Cru, 66-48, back on Jan. 18.
But focus this week was on the seniors, as Bryce Jones, Conner Durdan, Max Mitchell and Hayden Price joined Snook in the starting lineup. Four points from Mitchell, in his first action back after suffering a broken wrist in December, and four from Komater off the bench helped the home team to that first period lead before the starters put the hammer down in the second stanza.
The defense held L-W scoreless for 8 minutes, 31 seconds spanning the quarters, it allowed only a three-point play by Carson Connelly with 1:20 left in the half. That snapped an 14-0 burst that went to 18-3 at the break. After a free throw by Levi Zulz started the third, Marquette scored 19 of the next 21 points to lead 48-17 and all but complete the blowout.
In addition to Snook, the other four starters and Komater, seniors Nate Melvin and Chase Thumm each netted seven points, as did junior Sean Kissel, while Vance Childers chipped in a point and two rebounds.
"The guys that don't get to play a lot that were seniors, they started because they've earned that all year and they did a good job," said Hopkins. "We did a good job of getting after their ballhandlers, but this wasn't our cleanest performance. We turned the ball over a little bit ... and overall we have to do a better job of focusing, especially at the foul line (11-of-18). Free throws are mental and we have to get that corrected, but those things happen on Senior Night. There's a lot of emotion before the game when their parents come out, it sometimes gets you thinking instead of just doing what you normally do.
"But I'm not mad, The kids ground it out. We 'll take it and we'll move on and get ready for the showdown with Seneca next week. Hopefully, we'll rest up and heal up and give them a good game come Friday."
Trent Hofstatter tossed in six points and Dustin Shawback five to lead the Wildcats (4-18, 0-8).
At Bader Gymnasium, Ottawa
Marquette 56, Lowpoint-Washburn 24
L-W (24) — Hofstatter 2-9 2-4 6, Rebman 0-3 0-0 0, Zulz 1-2 1-2 3, D. Shawback 2-7 0-0 5, Connelly 1-5 1-1 3, Mark 1-2 1-2 3, Clanin 2-4 0-0 4, Vasquez 0-0 0-0 0, White 0-12 0-0 0, Althaus 0-0 0-0 0, C. Shawback 0-1 0-0 0, Theier 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 9-34 5-9 24.
MARQUETTE (56) — Snook 5-12 0-1 10, Jones 0-0 0-0 0, Durdan 0-3 0-0 0, Mitchell 2-5 1-2 5, Price 1-6 0-0 2, Komater 5-7 1-1 11, Melvin 2-4 1-2 7, Childers 0-0 1-2 1, Couch 0-4 2-2 2, Kissel 2-6 2-3 7, Mullen 1-5 2-4 4, Flavel 0-0 0-0 0, Amicon 0-0 0-0 90. Totals 19-37 9-13 48.
L-W (4-18, 0-8) 9 3 7 5 — 24
Marquette (24-2, 8-0) 10 19 21 6 — 56
3-point goals – L-W 1-9 (D. Shawback 1-4, Hofstatter 0-1, White 0-1, Connelly 0-3), Marquette 3-16 (Melvin 2-4, Kissel 1-2, Snook 0-1, Komater 0-1, Price 0-2, Durdan 0-2, Couch 0-4). Rebounds – L-W 29 (Hofstatter 5, Connelly 5), Marquette 37 (Snook 4, Jones 4, Mullen 4). Turnovers – L-W 26, Marquette 10. Total fouls (none fouled out) – L-W 17, Marquette 10.