By Jordan Slocum
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.