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Braves falter in 2nd half of regional semis

– Blackhawk Christian’s return to the regional was delayed slightly Saturday as the team watched the first semifinal game go into overtime.

The Braves then had trouble delaying Marquette Catholic’s high-powered offense. Marquette outscored Blackhawk 43-22 in the second half to blow open a tie game as the Braves’ season ended with a 70-49 loss in the Triton Regional.

Marquette, ranked No. 3 in the final Class A poll, entered the regional as one of the hottest teams in the state, having averaged 84 points over its last seven games.

But for a half, Blackhawk – winners of eight of its last 10 games that included its first sectional championship since 2010 – controlled the Blazers’ attack.

Marquette (17-6) gave a hint of what was looming by going on a 14-2 run to start the second quarter to turn a 17-13 deficit into a 27-19 lead. But Blackhawk scored eight points in the final 1:04, including two 3-pointers from sophomore Will Davidson, to go into halftime tied at 27.

“From the outset, the plan was to keep them in the half court,” said junior Wesley Davidson, who led the Braves with 17 points. “They’re really a good team, and they’re really fast and they like to get the ball up and down the court. The first half we did a good job of keeping them in the half court.”

But when Richard Mitchell hit a 3-pointer 15 seconds into the second half, the Blazers showed they no longer felt like staying in the half court. Although Blackhawk committed only four turnovers against Marquette’s pressure, it shot only 32 percent, which led to numerous Marquette points in transition.

By the time the third quarter ended, Marquette had hit 10 of 13 shots, including 6 of 9 3-pointers, and led 53-43. Ryan Fazekas, a 6-foot-8 junior who has committed to Providence, had 12 of his game-high 21 points in the quarter.

“Offensively they’re a very good basketball team,” said coach Marc Davidson, whose first Blackhawk team finished 16-10. “In the first half I thought we did a better job of finding their shooters. But the third quarter they got hot.”

Preston Rippe’s rebound basket with 5:03 left in the game pulled the Braves to 57-49, but it was the last points they scored.

“I think it was more them making plays than anything else,” Marc Davidson said. “They’re right up there with the best teams that we’ve played.”

Although the Braves lose four seniors, they return all five starters and now have a year in Davidson’s system.

“We’ve got a good core of our main guys coming back,” Wesley Davidson said. “We’re going to try to get back here. We’re really going to work hard this offseason to get back and hopefully make a run in the state tournament.”

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