Girls Basketball: Marian Catholic back to Normal — and after another crown
By Tony Baranek firstname.lastname@example.org March 6, 2014 9:14PM
Teniya Page, of Marian Catholic | Gary Middendorf/For Sun-Times Media
(all games at Redbird Arena, Normal)
Friday’s State Semifinals
Geneva (26-5) vs.
Rolling Meadows (28-4), 6:30 p.m.
Marian Catholic (27-4) vs.
Young (30-3), 8:15 p.m.
Third place: 6:30 p.m. Saturday
Championship: 8:15 p.m. Saturday
Updated: April 8, 2014 6:19AM
On the bus ride home from Bloomington after Monday night’s 71-45 Class 4A supersectional victory over Edwardsville, Marian Catholic’s players sang and danced and watched the movie “Now You See Me,” which deals with a group of illusionists who mesmerize their audiences.
It couldn’t have been more apropos, given the shooting magic the Spartans had just displayed in front of a wowed crowd at Illinois Wesleyan.
Wednesday, it was back to business.
“Just another day in the gym,” Dajhae Mullins said. “It’s another day to get better and work on things for the weekend.”
The weekend starts with Friday’s Class 4A semifinal against Young (30-3) in a rematch of last season’s semifinal.
The Spartans beat Young 63-39 to avenge three straight supersectional losses to the Dolphins from 2009 to ’11. They went on to beat Rolling Meadows in the state title game on a last-second putback by Kauai Bradley.
Guess who else is back? Yep, Rolling Meadows plays Geneva in the other semifinal.
First things first, though, according to Marian coach Dan Murray.
“Everyone knows the type of program Young has year in and year out,” he said. “They’re a fantastic basketball team, well coached and have all the ingredients.
“They’re big, they’re quick, they’ve got great guard play, and they can shoot the basketball. To beat them you have to play your A-plus game.”
Young cruised into the semifinals via a 57-39 win over Neuqua Valley in the Hinsdale Central Supersectional. Khaalia Hillsman had 18 points and 14 rebounds, and Madinah Muhammad 14 points.
Hillsman leads the Dolphins in scoring at 13.4 points per game, while Kiara Lewis averages 12.1.
“I’m pretty excited about the match-up, considering they beat Rolling Meadows earlier in the season just like we did,” Marian’s Teniya Page said. “But I’m more excited about the (point) guard match-up with me and my friend (Lewis), and obviously the team.
“My mind-set is just to go out there and play. In our eyes it’s just another game. They might be coming for revenge, but we’re just going to play.”
Any judge would have given Marian an A-plus for its effort against Edwardsville, which featured eye-popping 55 percent shooting, including 11 three-pointers. Page had four of them and finished with 20 points, while Ashton Millender sank three and led the Spartans with 22 points.
Defensively, Marian’s pressure never led Edwardsville get into any kind of a flow.
“I think a big part of it was that we were able to create some turnovers and get some easy baskets, and our first couple of shots fell,” Murray said. “After that we just played with a lot of confidence. The kids were catching and shooting the ball in rhythm, with no hesitation.
“That put a lot of pressure on their defense. They had to get out to our shooters, and then it was just a matter of rotating the basketball to the next open man. I thought we did a brilliant job of that. Our passing was fantastic.”
“Pretty darned good,” Murray said, laughing. “We played really well.
“I know the kids will be ready to come out and play hard (against Young). Hopefully, it’ll be a great basketball game.”