The Marquette Catholic Mohawks may have been a little nervous in the first few minutes of their 49-31 Iowa Class 1A regional quarterfinal girls basketball win over Easton Valley on Thursday.
Nonetheless, it was a freshman who took all the anxiety out of the room.
Marissa Schroeder scored 24 points in a performance where she had just four points at halftime. Not only did she struggle in the first half, but Marquette coach Jim Kettmann thought the whole team came out nervous.
“I know it’s good to be home court, but for some reason when you get home court, it puts a little bit more pressure on the players,” Kettmann said. “Everybody assumes that it’s an automatic win, but it doesn’t work like that in our conference. Everybody can beat everybody.
“We were 3-for-17 starting out,” Kettmann said of the jitters. “We were missing everything and were really tense. Fortunately, our defense was good enough to keep it within range.”
Schroeder said the team needed to calm down and realize that it was just another basketball game.
“Coach told us not to think of this as a tournament game, just to play our hardest and it’ll all pull through,” Schroeder said.
Easton Valley (7-11) had the lead at the end of the first quarter, 11-9. The River Hawks made five field goals and the Mohawks had just one.
“The girls played our gameplan precisely how we wanted it,” Easton Valley coach Kayla Tebbe said. “We played a really good first half of defense, but we came out of halftime a little flat.”
Even though the Mohawks (15-6) swept the River Hawks in Tri-Rivers Conference play, Kettmann knew Easton Valley was going to be a tough opponent to beat for the third time in a month.
“I thought about this game since our last game,” he said. “I knew Easton Valley was going to come in here tough because both games were close. This is a nice team who plays good, hard defense. The final score doesn’t really indicate what this game was.”
The final score included a big 9-2 run in the beginning of the third quarter launched by Schroeder. She had three of the baskets in that run, making the score 24-17 with just under five minutes remaining. The Mohawks outscored Easton Valley 18-8 in the third quarter.
“I was very surprised that I scored that many, and I’m also very happy,” Schroeder said.
Schroeder was averaging 6.8 points a game.
“Marissa took over and gave us enough of a cushion to hold on and play more solid,” Kettmann said.
Schroeder also ended the third quarter with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer off an offensive rebound. She had attempted only one 3-pointer during the regular season, and was 2-for-3 on the night.
“Sometimes when she gets on a little run, that’s what she does — she’ll score six or seven points and then let someone else take over,” Kettmann said. “I was just really happy to see it tonight.”
Lizzie Meier led the River Hawks with nine points, including six in the fourth quarter.
“What can you say about Lizzie Meier?” Tebbe asked with a grin. “She’s played undersized all year, and was really our leader every day when we needed her, and we’re really going to miss her.”
Easton Valley experienced a heartbreaking moment in the third quarter when guard Gabby Vasconcelos went down to what the Easton Valley coaching staff believed to be an injury to her ACL.
“You never want to see a girl go down like that in a game like this,” Kettmann said. “We’re all hoping she’s not seriously hurt and hopefully she’s OK.”
Before the injury, Vasconcelos scored all six of her points in the first quarter, sparking the early 11-9 lead.
Next up for the Mohawks is Springville, who took care of winless Central City 57-14 on Thursday. Kettmann has adopted the “survive and advance” mentality with the path to Des Moines being a challenging one.
“We’re the kind of team who isn’t sure how we show up,” Kettmann said. “We have moments where we look really good, then we have times where we look really bad; we’re a Jekyll and Hyde kind of team.
“Springville is another tough team who we’re going to have to be ready for come Tuesday.”
MARQUETTE CATHOLIC 49, EASTON VALLEY 31
EASTON VALLEY (7-11) — Lexi Theisen 0 0-0 0, Gabby Vasconcelos 3 0-0 6, Brooke Smithson 2 1-2 5, Abby Smithson 0 3-4 3, Lizzie Meier 3 3-4 9, Kalli Miller 4 0-0 8, Hannah Bormann 0 0-0 0, Marta Grant 0 0-0 0, Rose Strait 0 0-0 0, Rose Strait 0 0-0 0, Kiley Petersen 0 0-0 0. Totals 12 7-10 31.
MARQUETTE (15-6) — Nicole Blum 1 5-8 7, Justine Kalmes 1 0-0 2, Carly Jacobs 1 0-1 3, Marissa Schroeder 9 4-6 24, Anna Ambrosy 0 0-0 0, Anne Nolting 2 0-0 4, Tayler Richman 0 0-0 0, Grace Sieverding 1 3-5 5, Blake Banowetz 2 0-0 4. Totals 18 12-20 49.
Easton Valley 11 6 8 6 — 31
Marquette 9 6 18 16 — 49
3-point goals — Marquette 3 (Schroeder 2, Jacobs). Total fouls — Easton Valley 16, Marquette 13. Fouled out — Blum.