EAST LANSING – During warm-ups before Saturday’s Class B championship game, the Grand Rapids South Christian student section charted Marshall’s misses, which reached over 100.
But once the game started, Marshall (26-1) was significantly better shooting than the Sailors, claiming its first state title in hoops with a 51-42 victory Saturday at the Breslin Center.
Jill Konkle led the Redhawks with 13 points and Taryn Long and Emily Delmotte each added 10.
Markayla Vander led the Sailors with 16 points and Jennifer DeBoer scored 13 before fouling out.
Both teams were shooting for their first state championship, but South Christian’s shots weren’t falling in the first half. South Christian (25-3) made just six field goals and trailed, 25-15, at halftime as Marshall’s defense also forced nine turnovers.
“I kind of feel like the little engine that thought they could,” said Marshall coach Sal Konkle. “Nobody thought we could do this. We believed and the kids worked for a lot of years and put up with me for a lot of years. If you can get a team to play at a speed they don’t want to or go at a pace they don’t want to. … The kids know when to switch and what angles to take.”
The halftime adjustments didn’t work for South Christian as an 8-4 run had Marshall ahead, 33-19, forcing Sailors coach Kim Legge to call a timeout.
“We never got into our offense, I don’t know what I can say,” said Legge. “We’ve been behind before, but the momentum never seemed to swing in our favor. I don’t think we were nervous. The girls were pretty calm going into the game.”
The Sailors shot just 35.7%
South Christian managed to trim the deficit to 34-28 by the end of three, scoring nine of the last 10 points.
Marshall opened up a 10 point lead, but South Christian cut it to six again before a three-point play by Long with 3:10 left extended the lead to 45-36.
At the start of the game, the Sailors ran into quick foul problems when Sydney DeYoung picked up two quick fouls with 4:03 left in the first. Marshall hung tough against the aggressive Sailors defense, taking a 9-8 lead on triple by Carlee Long.
Marshall led, 11-8, after one by forcing six turnovers and its defense continued to stifle the Sailors they built the lead up to 13-8 on a jump shot by Georgianna Pratley.
Jill Konkle, the coach’s daughter, hit consecutive threes as the Redhawks went on a 12-5 spurt to take a 25-13 lead on a Pratley floater.
She was playing because Nicole Tucker was on the bench in foul trouble.
“I was over there cheering them on and it was great,” said Tucker who finished with eight points after a scoreless first half.
Contact Perry A. Farrell: 313-222-2555 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @farrellperry.