Boys Basketball

Marquette Explorers move one step closer to first sectional title

Marquette Explorers knock off Wesclin to reach sectional title game

The Alton IL Marquette Catholic High School Explorers defeated the Wesclin IL Senior High School Warriors 43-29 in an IHSA Class 2A Nashville Sectional in a high school boys basketball game played in Nashville, IL in southern Illinois near St. Lou
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The Alton IL Marquette Catholic High School Explorers defeated the Wesclin IL Senior High School Warriors 43-29 in an IHSA Class 2A Nashville Sectional in a high school boys basketball game played in Nashville, IL in southern Illinois near St. Lou

Jake Hall scored 12 of his 14 team-high points in the second half, and the Alton Marquette Explorers beat the Wesclin Warriors 43-29 to give themselves another opportunity for the first boys sectional basketball title in school history.

Marquette has eight regional championships, including four since 2011, without a sectional title to its credit.

“It would be a lot of fun,” said Marquette coach Steve Medford, whose 28-3 team faces the host Nashville Hornets (20-12) at 7 p.m. Friday in the Class 2A Nashville Sectional championship. “It would mean a lot to us and a lot to the kids. It’s something were these kids have prepared really hard (for). They deserve it.”

Key sequence

Wesclin (17-14) jumped out to a 7-2 lead and hung close for a while, but the Explorers forced two key steals late in the first half. They scored three points in the stretch, going up 18-15 at halftime and never looking back.

“We get those steals (and) it was a huge momentum-changer in the game,” Medford said. “You let a team like this, that’s won their last few games and has probably been up and down all season, stay in the game for some time, and that game can change a little bit.”

Instead, the Explorers stretched their lead to 31-19 and outscored Wesclin 13-4 in the third quarter.

Shooting woes, caused in part by Marquette’s defensive pressure, helped undo the Warriors.

Wesclin hit just 11 of 41 shots overall (27 percent) and missed 18 of its 22 3-point tries.

“In the second half we scored four points in the third quarter, and we had decent shots to stay in the game,” Wesclin coach Brent Brede said. “That’s a problem we’ve had as the year’s gone on: We don’t score enough. We went through that (cold) spell, and in a game like this against a team like that, it’s a disaster for us.

Key performers

Along with Hall’s 14 points, Nick Hemann and Reagan Snider each had eight points for Marquette, and Sammy Green had seven.

Wesclin got eight points from Brandon Courtney and seven each from Justin Kellogg and Nate Brede.

Norm Sanders: 618-239-2454, @NormSanders

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