Prep girls basketball: Marquette completes comeback, still falls short in Class A district

TRAVERSE CITY – Marquette buried itself in a deep hole, was able to escape, then lost in the final few minutes to bow out of the MHSAA Class A girls basketball district tournament on Wednesday evening.

The Redettes lost 42-39 at Traverse City West to end a bid to host the district championship game on Friday night.

Instead, Marquette’s season ends at 19-3, which included a 16-0 start with two wins in three tries against the Upper Peninsula’s top two teams in Class ABC, St. Ignace and Houghton.

On the surface, the loss was a bit unexpected for the Redettes, who fell to a 10-11 Titans team they had beaten 42-16 on Dec. 28 in Traverse City.

However, TC West has won nine of its last 11 games after a 1-9 start due to having several of its best players injured early in the season.

“We knew they are a very deliberate team and wanted to play a different style than we wanted to,” MSHS coach Ben Smith said.

This game of big runs began with Marquette jumping out to an 8-2 lead. TC West cut its deficit to 10-8 by the end of the first quarter, then reeled off a 19-2 second quarter to take a 27-12 advantage at the intermission. Smith said the Titans evened up their lead to 31-12 early in the third quarter.

“We gave up too many open looks in the second quarter. Once they got ahead, then they were able to be very selective with their shots,” Smith said.

After the Titans’ mini-spurt after halftime, they didn’t score again for the rest of the third quarter, allowing MSHS to pull back within 31-23 entering the fourth.

“In the third and fourth (quarters), we got after it and changed the tempo of the game,” Smith said. “We got them out of their comfort zone.”

Marquette actually went ahead 38-35 around the midpoint of the final period before TC West made more plays than the Redettes down the stretch.

“We had two turnovers at the other end, and they made a 3 on a drive to the hoop and kickout to the perimeter,” Smith said. “Then they made some free throws down the stretch.”

MSHS junior Hunter Viitala led all scorers with 17 points, while also making five steals and pulling down three rebounds. No other Redette scored more than five points, though junior Elizabeth Kurin made a team-high nine rebounds.

In addition, freshman teammate and recent JV callup Amber Huebner accumulated five points, three steals, three rebounds and two assists.