OTTAWA — In Tuesday night's Tri-County Conference clash between Marquette Academy, a club with six straight losses, and Henry-Senachwine, which had lost two winnable games in the past three nights, something had to give.
It was the Mallards that didn't wait to be given anything, and that includes a free lane to the basket.
Though the Crusaders played solid offensive basketball for much of the night, their defense was lacking to the point where every time MA tried to take control of the game, Henry was able to answer until a 10-2 run late in the fourth quarter gave the visitors the lead and ultimately a 62-56 victory over the Cru here in Bader Gymnasium.
Henry started out like a house afire, hitting eight of their 10 first-quarter shots, and maintained that momentum in the see-saw battle into the fourth quarter, where a two-minute Marquette scoring drought allowed the Mallards to take the win, its second decision over the locals in the last three weeks.
"Give Henry credit. They came in our place and beat us, and that's twice they got us now," said MA coach Todd Hopkins, his team now 14-11 overall and 4-2 in the league, with Henry looming again Monday in the Midland 1A Regional opener. "I thought we played well the first four, five minutes and at the end of the half, Jon (Ugolini) and Max (Donahue) came in and gave us some energy, but we just had a stretch in between where we went flat ... and they shot well in the first quarter and they were hitting 3s in the first half. We got down eight (late) and we kept fighting and played our butts off, but it was too late. We couldn't get over the hump. ... I believe we can turn this around and finish strong, but we're running out of time.
"It's a matter of putting your foot down and saying, 'You're not going to score, you're not going to get a shot off.' That's something we're just not doing right now, and it's frustrating for them, for me, for our fans. We have to play better defense, bottom line."
There was little any defense could have done against Henry (9-16, 4-3 T-C) at the start, when sophomore Ethan Condit hit all four of his tries and the visitors went 8-of-10 from the field. It would finish shooting 51 percent (20-of-39) for the night.
However, thanks to three of the five 3-pointers on the night by Austin Threadgill — accounting for all of his team-best 15 points — MA trailed by just one.
After a 27-27 halftime tie, Chase Thumm's six points helped offset seven by H-S's Gavin Smith to keep the Crusaders within 41-39 through three. But with Thumm missing the last four minutes of the third and part of the early fourth with four fouls, the hosts struggled for shots.
A deuce by Max Donahue with 3 minutes, 58 seconds left in the fourth got Marquette within 46-45, but a 3-pointer by Peyton Cordes and a drive down the lane by Schuyler Hughes started the decisive rally, capped by a free throw by Smith at the 1:26 mark putting Henry on top 56-47.
From there, the Mallards finished off a 10-of-12 final stanza from the stripe to preserve the win.
Smith finished with a game-high 22 points, seven in the final period, while Condit ended with 12 points, and Hughes and Josh Maubach 10 each for Henry. Thumm ended with 10 points, Donahue nine and Jack Snook eight for the Cru.
"We definitely couldn't miss in that first quarter," said Henry-Senachwine coach Brandon Pettett. "We played Saturday and Monday, and we're coming off two very tough losses in which we didn't shoot the ball very well. The kids were really looking to bounce back, and though we knew coming up here it was going to be tough no matter what ... the kids got shots falling early and carried that momentum through the entire game.
"We can get stagnant on offense, but tonight we stressed being hard to guard and they did everything I asked. When they listen and go out and execute, we can be pretty dangerous."
Henry-Senachwine 62, Marquette 56
(Key: FG-FGA FT-FTA TP)
HENRY-SEN. (62) — Hughes 2-7 5-8 10, Condit 6-9 0-0 12, Smith 7-16 7-9 22, Boucher 0-0 0-0 0, Maubach 3-3 2-2 10, Cordes 2-4 2-4 8. Totals 20-39 16-23 62.
MARQUETTE (56) — Snook 4-13 0-0 8, Komater 2-7 2-3 6, Thumm 4-9 2-3 10, Threadgill 5-13 0-0 15, Duchon 1-3 0-2 2, Childers 1-4 0-0 2, Donahue 4-5 1-2 9, Melvin 0-0 0-0 0, Couch 0-2 0-0 0, Ugolini 1-1 0-0 2, Mitchell 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 23-58 5-10 56.
Henry-S. (9-16, 4-3) 18 9 14 21 — 62
3-point goals — Henry 6-13 Maubach 2-2, Cordes 2-4, Hughes 1-3, Smith 1-4), Marquette 5-21 (Threadgill 5-13, Couch 0-2, Snook 0-3, Komater 0-3). Rebounds — Henry 26 (Smith 6), Marquette 34 (Komater 7, Snook 6). Turnovers — Henry 12, Marquette 12. Total fouls (fouled out) — Henry 9, Marquette 16 (Thumm).