JERSEYVILLE — Despite being winless at the Jersey Invite through four games, Marquette Catholic head coach Steve Medford believes Jerseyville is the place to be for his Explorers.
On Friday Marquette ran into a buzzsaw with stifling defense of the Cahokia Comanches, falling 39-30 in a low-scoring affair. The loss dropped the Explorers to 13-8 and 0-4 at the Jersey Invite, while Cahokia improved to 9-11 overall, but 3-1 in the tourney.
“I think this is a great experience for us,” Medford said. “Some people are going to argue that we're 0-4, but we've competed in every game and it's going to allow us to teach. When we get back and watch film it's going to show these kids some of the things we're doing wrong, some of the things maybe they thought they were doing right that in a close game is going to hurt us a little bit. I think we can really take a lot from this and it's really going to help us get ready for regionals too.”
Chances are the Explorers won't have to face the type of uncomfortable pressure they saw on Friday from the Comanches.
Marquette was just 8 of 37 in the game and didn't make its first field goal of the game until the 3:51 mark of the second quarter on a Jacob Fischer basket.
“We played a little timid the first quarter,” Medford said. “I was really wanting to come out and play lose and free and try to attack them and put them on their heels a little bit. We were a little scared and a little timid and I had to call two timeouts early just to try and get them fired up a little bit. When you shoot 8 of 37 you're not going to win many games.”
Medford admitted Cahokia dictates the pace of the game and it's a speed that takes most teams out of their rhythm.
“That's what makes them tough, they wear you down and they pressure you and pressure you and pressure you and it takes you out of your comfort zone,” Medford said. “Offensively it makes you penetrate to the basket, but when you penetrate to the basket you have a 6-foot-10 guy (Davonte Williams) and what are you going to do?”
But while the Explorers struggled on offense, the Comanches weren't much better. Cahokia was just 14 of 37 from the floor and head coach Darian Nash wasn't too impressed with the offensive effort of his squad.
“We have to make baskets,” Nash said. “If we stop people we still have to put the ball through the hole, or it's nothing nothing. We'll come back and have a practice at six in the morning, because me and the coaches aren't happy with the effort on the offensive end.”
One Comanche that did compete on the offensive end was Montez Crumble Jr. He was 6 of 10 from the field — including 3 of 5 from 3-point land — and led all scorers with 22 points.
The same couldn't be said for Marquette's leading scorer Shandon Boone. Boone had a team-high 10 points, but was just 1 of 17 from the field and 0 for 9 from beyond the arc.
“We watched them and we figured if we took away (Boone), that's their scorer, and it would be hard for them to get points,” Nash said. “We did that and then we didn't make baskets.”
All Marquette could muster in the first quarter was a free throw by Trey Aguirre and a pair from the charity stripe by Boone, but still only trailed 9-3 when the buzzer sounded on the opening stanza.
The Explorers kept scratching and when the break rolled around the deficit remained in single digits at 17-8 despite the fact they were just 2 of 18 shooting in the first half.
“The great thing about it is in previous teams we probably would have had a lot of guys that would have felt sorry for themselves and got down,” said Medford. “We kept doing the little things. We kept defending, we kept boxing out, we kept rebounding so to their credit it says a lot about their character.”
The hard work paid off in the third quarter for Marquette, which strung together an 11-0 run to get from a 19-10 deficit to a 19-19 tie with 3:25 to go in the third.
Max Goepel started the series for the Explorers with a pair of free throws, followed by a bucket from Fischer, two free throws from Boone, a Ben Sebacher basket, another Boone free throw and two shots for the charity stripe by Aguirre.
Unfortunately the Comanches answered with an 8-0 run of their own. Crumble had a field goal and a 3-pointer sandwiched around a trey from Antonio Donald to make it 27-19 after three quarters.
“I told the kids all along, Cahokia has got two dials,” Medford said. “The first three quarter dial is, 'We're gonna let you play and hang around.' Then when they want to dial it up a little bit, they dial it up a little bit. I flat told the kids, when we tied the ball game up I said, 'You better make crisper passes and you better make harder passes.' And the next thing you know we turned it over, but that's what they do, Cahokia can turn it up on you.”
Crumble started the fourth quarter with another 3-pointer to extend the run to 11-0 and the Cahokia lead to 30-19. The Comanches maintained the lead the rest of the way.
Crumble and Boone were the only players to reach double figures in scoring in the game. Donald had six and Damond Harrison scored five for Cahokia, while Marquette got six points from Fischer and five each from Aguirre and Goepel to complement Boone.
The Explorers close out the Jersey Invite at 7 p.m. Saturday vs. the host Panthers. Collinsville, which defeated Quincy Notre Dame 71-46 on Friday needs a win over Pittsfield at 4 p.m. Saturday at Jersey to win the title. The Kahoks are 4-0 thus far in the tourney.
CAHOKIA 39, MARQUETTE 30
MARQUETTE 3 5 11 11 — 30
CAHOKIA 9 8 10 12 — 39
MARQUETTE (13-8) — Trey Aguirre 5, Shandon Boone 10, Jacob Fischer 6, Max Goepel 5, Ben Sebacher 2, Reagan Snider 2. 2PT — 8 3FG — 0 FT — 14 PF — 11
CAHOKIA (9-11) — Devonte Williams 2, Malik Brown 2, Quiontez Miller 2, Montez Crumble Jr. 22, Antonio Donald 6, Damond Harrison 5. 2PT — 9 3FG — 5 FT — 6 PF — 15