EDWARDSVILLE — The Marquette Catholic Explorers started the 2014-15 season in style Monday night at the 34th Annual Metro East Lutheran Thanksgiving Turkey Tip Off Classic.
Marquette dispatched Staunton 67-38 to kick off pool play in the monster 18-team tournament. Part of Pool C, the Explorers will next battle New Athens at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday in the auxiliary gym.
“I think that's what's good about the kids that are in this program, they expect to win,” Marquette head coach Steve Medford said. “We've gotten that mentality over the last three to four years, they expect to win. We've got some new guys with new roles this year, but we've got some guys with varsity experience that hadn't done much but filled small roles. Now with Deion (Lavender) gone we've got some guys that are stepping up and doing some good things.”
It was a familiar face and a new face leading the charge on Monday. Returning starter Max Goepel put up 20 points, while newcomer Shandon Boone led all scorers with 21 points.
“We were just feeling it tonight,” Boone said. “Everyone was making their shots, we were playing hard defensively and we got the W.”
Goepel added, “It's good starting off with a win. I thought we played real hard. It's fun playing with Shandon, he's a great addition. I love having him on the team already. He's a good passer and a good shooter.”
The Explorers made their presence felt early, charging out to a 13-2 lead to start the game. Goepel buried a 3-pointer to spark the scoring at the 7:01 mark.
Boone got going to close out the run, hitting a trey and picking up a steal that he took in for a layup. He admitted he was a little nervous donning his new colors early on, but that initial 3 — the first of five he hit on the night — that calmed him down.
“At first I was, but after the first few plays I was good,” he said with a smile.
Marquette led 13-5 at the close of the first quarter and then outscored the Bulldogs 18-8 in the second frame to construct a 31-13 lead entering the locker room.
Staunton made a valiant effort in the third quarter, stringing together an 11-3 run midway through the stanza.
“I thought our kids showed character in that third quarter and again it wasn't for lack of effort in the first, they were just better than us,” said Steve Moore, head coach of the Bulldogs. “Then in the second have we said, 'You're going to battle as hard as you can and see where the chips fall.' I was happy that our kids made that run and then we kind of ran out of gas and they put the nail in the coffin there.”
And it was Boone who supplied the hammer to sink that nail in. As time expired on the third quarter, Boone stepped back well beyond the arc and buried a 3-point bomb to hand Marquette a 51-30 lead entering the final eight minutes. The Explorers then doubled up the Bulldogs 16-8 in the final frame to put them away.
“He can play,” Medford said of Boone. “I think what makes him so good is his court vision and on top of that he knows how to shoot the ball and he really knows how to fill it up at times. I'm looking for him to do good things for us. I'm preaching to him on the defensive end, I really want him to concentrate on that. If he gets better defensively for us he's going to be stud.”
With the one-two punch of Boone and Goepel showing what they can do on Monday, Medford is stoked on the possibilities the two scorers give the Explorers, along with other capable players.
“It really is and then you have guys like Ben Sebacher who hasn't really come into his own yet, but Ben is going to be a nice player for us and (Jacob) Fischer is going to hit some shots,” Medford said. “When we get those other two bigs involved a little more I think we're going to be a pretty tough team.”
Fischer joined Boone and Goepel in double-digit scoring with 13 points, while Nick Messinger chipped in eight off the bench, Sebacher netted four points and Tim Derrington added one point.
Staunton was led by 15 points from Josh Franke in the loss.
The Bulldogs will now play New Athens at 8 p.m. Tuesday in the auxiliary gym at MELHS.
MELHS THANKSGIVING TURKEY TIP-OFF CLASSIC
(at Metro East Lutheran)
MARQUETTE 67, STAUNTON 38
Staunton 5 8 17 8 — 38
Marquette 13 18 20 11 — 67
Staunton (0-1) — Austin Gusewelle 2, Colin Fairman 8, Josh Franke 15, Blaine Ray 8, Dallas Foster 5. 2FG — 11 3FG — 3 FT — 6
Marquette (1-0) — Shandon Boone 21, Max Goepel 20, Jacob Fischer 13, Ben Sebacher 4, Nick Messinger 8, Tim Derrington 1. 2FG — 16 3FG — 10 FT — 5