Marian Catholic storms past Neuqua Valley in tourney final
Playing with relentless defensive aggression and converting turnovers into transition buckets early, the Marian Catholic girls basketball team managed to capture the Oswego Hoops for the Troops Tournament title on Saturday afternoon, defeating Neuqua Valley 46-25.
"We make our schedule tough for a reason," Neuqua Valley coach Mike Williams said. "These girls are trying to figure out how to handle these pressures and function."
The game started out with pace. The Spartans raced out to a 15-4 lead early in the second period and then managed to answer all Neuqua Valley runs with lengthier spurts of their own that gradually extended their lead. Time and time again, it seemed tournament MVP Teniya Page led the charge.
"Just having a kid who is such a floor general and that makes such quality decisions. Knowing when to push and when to slow it down, being able to bring the double-team and get it out to create advantages up the floor -- she's just a phenomenal player," Marian Catholic coach Dan Murray said.
Page's smooth 17-point, 5-assist, 4-rebound performance paced the Spartans (9-1) and ultimately earned her that MVP hardware, but it was team defense that earned Marian Catholic the big trophy.
With Neuqua Valley sporting a pair of all-tournament guards in Myia Starks and Kai Moon, the Spartans managed to force the Wildcats into 12 first-half turnover en route to a 27-12 lead at the break. And even when Moon scored 5 of her Neuqua Valley-high 13 points to start the second half, Marian Catholic hunkered down.
"Perimeter pressure was an obvious concern because we know how good their two guards are," Murray said. "But I thought the girls did a fantastic job. We were able to create some havoc there where we didn't allow their bigs to get going on us on the glass and that made it more of a full-court game, which obviously played to our advantage."
Despite facing an inherent disadvantage size-wise, Marian Catholic outrebounded Neuqua Valley by a final total of 30-21 thanks in large part to the contributions of Gabrielle Cooper and Kauai Bradley.
Cooper finished the contest just shy of a double-double with 11 points and 9 rebounds while Bradley added 8 points and 7 rebounds.
The Wildcats' second-place finish and a 2-2 record for the tournament dropped them to 10-3 on the season.