The defending Class B girls basketball state champion Marshall Redhawks are heading back to the semifinals after defeating Grand Rapids Catholic Central 49-27 in Tuesday’s quarterfinal game at Otsego High School. The Redhawks never trailed in the contest and started the game on a 10-4 run. Their lead jumped to 14-6 by the end of the first quarter, 23-9 by halftime, and 39-20 for the end of the third quarter.
Marshall senior Nikki Tucker had a stellar performance, nearly outscoring the Cougars on her own with a 26 point performance.
“She was pretty darn good, wasn’t she?” said coach Sal Konkle after the game. “She was a coach’s dream tonight. She’s been so focused the last couple weeks. We talked about shot fakes and she sure as heck shot-faked the heck out of them and created space for herself to score.”
Younger sister Natalie Tucker and Carlee Long each had eight points for Marshall. Topping GRCC with eight was Shaniya Huggins.
For the second straight season, the Redhawks end the Cougars’ season in the quarterfinals. Marshall also avenges one of their two regular season losses, as GRCC beat them in January. The Cougars finish the year at 24-2 with Marshall moving to 23-2. The Redhawks move to the semifinal Friday at 6 p.m. at the Breslin Center at Michigan State University. They’ll meet second-ranked Detroit Country Day (24-1), who was a semifinalist last season. That game is scheduled for broadcast via Michigan Sports Radio.
NOTE: Due to unsolvable technical issues at Otsego, the broadcast of the Marshall/GRCC game has been cancelled. I am incredibly sorry and can’t apologize enough to all of those who wanted to hear this game.
Listen live Tuesday at 7 p.m. on Michigan Sports Radio as the Marshall Redhawks and Grand Rapids Catholic Central Cougars meet at Otsego High School in the quarterfinals of the MHSAA Class B girls basketball state tournament. These squads met in last year’s quarterfinals with Marshall winning 41-30, en route to the program’s first state championship.
This time around, the Redhawks enter at 22-2 and were ranked sixth in the final Associated Press poll. Marshall’s only losses came to #3 Williamston in their season opener (37-31), and to GRCC (42-34) in the East Grand Rapids Showcase on January 28. Since that defeat, the Redhawks have won eleven consecutive games, with each victory by 20 or more points. This includes their four postseason wins against teams with a combined 68-25 record, the same four teams they defeated to start last season’s title run.
For the Cougars, they’re 24-1 overall with the only loss coming to Muskegon Mona Shores (59-52) in their season opener. They’ve featured stellar defense all season, allowing 30.8 points per game and only 22.8 per game in the postseason. Since 2009, GRCC has made it to the quarterfinals seven times, winning the state title in 2010 and taking second in 2012 and 2009.
Many players from both sides are back from last season’s quarterfinal game. Embry-Riddle commit Nikki Tucker topped all players last season with 17 points for the Redhawks. In this season’s meeting, Marshall’s Carlee Long and GRCC’s Kyra Bussell each had 13 points. The Cougars also had 12 points from Central Michigan commit Sophia Karasinski, who they won’t have Tuesday because of a torn ACL suffered in their regular season finale.
Listen to Tuesday’s quarterfinal live online via Michigan Sports Radio with tip set for 7 p.m. from Otsego. The winner advances to the Breslin Center at Michigan State to play either #2 Detroit Country Day (23-1) or Detroit Mumford (18-7) in the semifinal Friday at 6 p.m.