EDWARDSVILLE — The Marquette Catholic Explorers suffered their first setback of the season Friday at the Metro East Lutheran Turkey Tip-Off Classic.
Marquette (3-1) lost 59-53 to Waterloo Gibault (3-0) in the semifinals of the gold bracket, putting the Explorers in the third-place game at 7 p.m. Saturday against host MELHS (3-1). The Knights lost 55-31 in the other semifinal game against Southwestern (3-0). The Piasa Birds and defending champion Gibault will meet in the title tilt at 8:30 p.m.
To earn their semifinal berth, the Explorers beat Litchfield 53-31 earlier on Friday in the quarterfinals of the gold bracket.
In its three wins Marquette beat its opponents by an average of 22 points. Unfortunately for the Explorers, Gibault bucked that trend.
“They've got three or four guys that can make baskets and that's tough to guard,” Marquette head coach Steve Medford said.
Jacob Rueter, Brian Detering and Trevor Davis handled the scoring for the Hawks. Rueter scored 23 points, while Detering netted 19 and Davis added 15. It was the 6-foot-4 Detering that gave Marquette fits early though.
Detering was 4 of 4 from the field in the first quarter as Gibault built a 15-9 lead. Rueter scored the other seven points.
“Our post defense and our length wasn't too much of a threat for them today,” Medford said. “Detering was tough and Rueter's a guy who can just make shots and then you've got Trevor Davis who is tough and you have the inside presence which makes them difficult to guard for us.
“I thought we were a little tired tonight, but in the same token I thought we had a chance to win the game.”
The Explorers were able to get Detering in foul trouble with two fouls in the second quarter, shifting their focus at taking it at him, but unfortunately the game plan didn't work.
“Our focal point was trying to get him to foul,” Medford said. “We had two opportunities in that second quarter to get a third foul on him and we went at him, but our bigs didn't really have the awareness to attack him and try and get that third foul.”
The Explorers climbed as close as 19-17 at the 5:50 mark of the second quarter following a bucket by Max Goepel, but they couldn't get over the hump as they entered the break trailing 29-22.
It wasn't until the fourth quarter Marquette finally began to mount a comeback. A 3-pointer by Shandon Boone at the end of the third quarter kick started a 7-0 spurt that got the Explorers to 50-42 at the 5:38 mark of the fourth.
Then Marquette's plan finally came through as Ben Sebacher got Detering to foul out with 4:30 remaining in the game.
“We're not very deep, especially in the post, and we knew that would be a problem,” Gibault head coach Dennis Rueter said. “Brian can get in foul trouble and that can be a problem for us. They called some things we kind of wished they wouldn't call, but we have to adapt to that, it's part of the game.”
With Detering out of the game Sebacher was able to score around the basket for the Explorers, starting a 9-0 run for Marquette that was capped by a trey by Goepel to slice it to 57-53 with 22.4 seconds remaining. It was as close as the Explorers could get though as a long 3-point attempt from Boone fell short and Jacob Rueter was able to sink a pair of free throws to close out the win for the Hawks.
“In general we played pretty well for an early season game,” Dennis Rueter said. “I think we made a few more shots than they did. I don't know that we were better than them, but they missed some shots inside that they would probably like to have back and we probably shot it a little better than them from the perimeter. In general we just made a few more shots than they made.”
Gibault also did a better job at going for 50/50 balls according to Medford, too.
“We just didn't have a sense of urgency on the defensive end and I just thought they just did a really good job of getting every 50/50 ball,” he said. “I think we had six offensive rebounds. It was really pathetic. They wanted it a little more than us tonight and they deserved to win.”
The Explorers got 15 points apiece from Boone and Sebacher, while Goepel netted 14 points — eight of them coming in the fourth quarter — to lead the way.
MELHS TURKEY TIP-OFF CLASSIC
GIBAULT 59, MARQUETTE 53
Marquette 9 13 16 15 — 53
Gibault 15 14 21 9 — 59
Marquette (3-1) — Trey Aguirre 7, Shandon Brown 15, Jacob Fischer 4, Max Goepel 14, Ben Sebacher 15. 2FG — 15 3FG — 5 FT — 8
Gibault (3-0) — Jacob Rueter 23, Zach Rueter 2, Trevor Davis 15, Brian Detering 19. 2FG — 16 3FG — 7 FT — 6