Marian Catholic was astoundingly bad shooting the ball in first quarter of Monday’s East Suburban Catholic matchup against Bishop McNamara.
Soon, however, the Spartans would become absolutely three-mendous.
All six Spartans shots in the second period were from beyond the arc, giving them some separation. Defense at the start of the third period opened up all facets and Marian eventually cruised, 71-40.
Ashton Millender led the way for the Spartans (20-4, 7-0) with 25 points, Teniya Page added 13 and Gabrielle Cooper 11, while Dajhae Mullins grabbed eight rebounds.
Khadaizha Sanders and Jenna Stauffenberg had nine points each for Bishop McNamara (19-5, 6-2).
The win by the Spartans set up a first-place showdown Wednesday with Joliet Catholic.
“It should be a good game,” Page said. “I’m just going to go out there and play. Anything can happen. I might get hot or I might be cold. We might be hot as a team, or be cold as as team.
“As far as [Joliet Catholic], they’re a really good team. We’ll see what happens Wednesday.”
Marian Catholic was colder than cold, 3-of-17 from the field in a first quarter that ended with Bishop McNamara in front, 9-7. The Spartans missed five shots on one possession, three from inside the paint.
“That was frustrating,” Page said. “But then once I got to the bench the assistant coaches reminded me that I’d just have to play through it.”
Page opened the second period with a three. Millender followed with another. The Spartans still had their problems converting from the paint, but used three threes by Millender, two by Page and one by Cooper to take a 25-20 advantage into intermission.
“I kept missing, but just knew I had to keep shooting and it was going to start falling sooner or later,” Millender said. “We just tried to look for the open shot. If the three is open, we can take it, and hopefully it goes in.”
The third period began with a steal by Kauai Bradley, who fed Millender for a layup. Seconds later, Millender made a steal and fed Bradley for a layup. Millender then swished a three-pointer. Suddenly it was 32-22 and the Spartans were off and running.
Marian hit its first eight shots of the third quarter, plus were 3-for-3 from the line. They finished the period 12-for-14, with Millender ending it by nailing a three while being clobbered, and then converting the four-point play.
Page’s three to start the fourth quarter left Marian with 12 for the night.