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  • Val T.

Morris, Stults combine for 35, but turnover-prone Argos falls to Marquette Catholic

BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS

Sports Editor, RTC

BOURBON — J.J. Morris scored 18 points, and Luke Stults added 17 points and 11

J.J. Morris

rebounds, but the Argos boys basketball team lost to No. 10 Marquette Catholic 51-44 in a Class 1A, Sectional 50 semifinal at the Trojan Trench at Triton Saturday.

The game featured 11 lead changes in the third quarter but none in the fourth.

Jason Kobe led the Blazers with 14 points, Lukas Balling had 13, Gary Lewis had 12, and Connor Bakota had 10.

Argos committed 18 turnovers while Marquette Catholic had eight. The Dragons had seven turnovers in the fourth quarter alone.

“Well, we just knew going in that if we turned the ball over, it would lead to them doing what they do best, which is transition offense and run and gun,” Argos coach Jason Breden said. “Truthfully, I think we handled the ball very well the first three quarters, and that’s what kept us in the game. … I just think down the stretch, those last four or five minutes, when you get a little urgency … or a little panicky, that’s where some of those turnovers came.”

Marquette Catholic won their 13th straight game and improved to 18-7. They will play Culver, a 40-24 winner over Oregon-Davis in the first semifinal, in the final at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

Argos finished 15-8.

A balanced Marquette Catholic attack might have been dissimilar to what happened in an 82-69 win over Westville in the quarters on Wednesday, when Kobe and Balling combined for 67 points. But it also marked just the sixth time in 25 games this season that they have been held under 60 points.

“The game plan was just the same,” Breden said when asked to compare the defensive strategy to the 50-49 win over Triton Wednesday in the quarterfinals. “If (Kobe’s) driving, we just need to smother him. And it was a bold call because there were a few guys I really was yelling, ‘Don’t guard him,’ and we’re lucky that they didn’t shoot the ball well. So we really just wanted to take away him.”

Lewis scored on a cutting layup off a Balling assist with 32.2 seconds left in the third quarter and was fouled. He missed the ensuing free throw, but Marquette Catholic was ahead for good at 35-34.

Lewis got a friendly rim on a 15-footer, Kobe hit two free throws, and Bakota scored on a putback to cap the 8-0 run and give Marquette Catholic a 41-34 lead.

Argos never got closer than five after that. A Morris 3-pointer – it was Argos’ only 3 of the game – ended a seven-and-a-half minute field goal drought and cut the lead to 47-42 with 46.1 seconds left. Lewis spent some of the second half face-guarding Morris.

“I think he’s the best passer we’ve played all year, to be quite honest,” Marquette Catholic coach Ray Tarnow said of Morris. “We’ve played some pretty decent schools. You know, we played a regular man off the bat, and we said obviously we’ve got to know where he’s at. He’s just very patient. He’s a very good player. And then we ran our face-man on him in the second half. Played some 2-3, played some 1-3-1. Played much different defenses to be honest with you.

“And that’s what we’ve done all year. We try to keep teams guessing, I guess you could say. … Today I think we won the game on defense.”

But after an Argos timeout, Bakota went deep on the inbounds pass and went in for a layin and a seven-point lead.

Argos got off to a 10-4 lead. Morris had two buckets – one on a drive and the other on a 15-footer – and two assists during the early run, one to Richard to set-up a 3-point play and the other to Stults on a dive into the post.

Marquette Catholic got back within 10-9 on a Bakota triple just before the first quarter buzzer, and they took their first lead on Lewis’ driving layup to open the second quarter.

The Blazer lead grew to 19-15 on a Balling 3 from the top of the key, but a Morris spin and half-hook in the lane and a steal and banker in transition from Manikowski gave Argos a 20-19 lead at halftime.

“I’m just really proud of the guys,” Breden said. “We really wanted to spread Marquette Catholic out and make them have to work to guard us and play defense for long possessions. Their style of basketball is they’re just used to getting up and down. They’re used to scoring 70 to 80 points a game, and their average defensive possession might only be 15 seconds. When we can work them for a minute or two, it affects their offense then, because it gets them out of what they do best.”

Stults highlighted a compelling third quarter with eight points, including a high-level turnaround jumper from the right baseline. Neither team led by more than two points in the quarter.

Breden said Stults has adapted after being “thrown to the wolves” to start the year.

“As time has gone on, he’s gotten stronger,” Breden said. “He’s gotten more confident. Ever since the Bi-County against LaVille – where maybe if we rebound better, we win – I can just see it in him. He just made it his mission that, ‘I’m going to become a rebounding monster.’”

The semifinals were postponed from Friday night to Saturday morning due to a snowstorm. Sectional 50 was one of 25 statewide knocked off schedule by the weather and one of 10 that was playing both its semifinals and final on Saturday.

Marquette Catholic 51, Argos 44

ARGOS (44) (15-8)

Nate Manikowski 2 0-0 4, Sean Richard 2 1-1 5, Elijah Osborn 0 0-0 0, J.J. Morris 7 3-3 18, Luke Stults 5 7-10 17, A.J. Mills 0 0-0 0, Hayden Hensler 0 0-0 0

TEAM: 16 11-14 44

MARQUETTE CATHOLIC (51) (18-7)

Gary Lewis 6 0-1 12, Adam Tarnow 0 2-2 2, Jason Kobe 4 6-10 14, Connor Bakota 4 1-2 10, Lukas Balling 5 1-3 13, Cameron Best 0 0-1 0, Brandon Welch 0 0-0 0

TEAM: 19 10-19 51

Three-point field goals:

Argos 1 (Morris),

Marquette Catholic 3 (Balling 2, Bakota)

Total fouls: Argos 17, Marquette Catholic 18

Fouled out: Stults (ARG), 1:23, fourth; Richard (ARG), :27.7, fourth

Turnovers: Argos 18, Marquette Catholic 8

Score by quarters

Argos 10 10 14 10 – 44

Marquette Catholic 9 10 16 16 – 51


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