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The Irish's fast start helps advance them to regional title game

Published: Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014 5:30 a.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014 10:33 a.m. CDT
(Mark Johnson – mjohnson@shawmedia.com)
Seneca's Mickey Juricic looks to pass the ball while in front of the Reed-Custer bench during Wednesday's Class 2A Marquette Regional game.

OTTAWA – Seneca parlayed a fast start into a 63-35 defeat of Reed-Custer in Wednesday's first semifinal game at the girls basketball Class 2A Marquette Regional.

Mallory Misener scored nine points and distributed three assists during the first quarter, powering Seneca (23-5) to a 20-10 lead. The Irish started on a 9-0 run, which featured baskets from Danielle Hauch, Anna Baker and Misener and a 3-pointer from Jacey Lamboley.

"We got some great looks. I thought we were patient, we moved the ball around and I think every one of those shots were pretty much a wide-open, good look for our shooters," Seneca coach Barb Beck said.

Caitlyn Welch broke the shutout with a 3-pointer nearly four minutes in and added another a short time later. She scored eight of the Comets' 10 points in the first quarter and had 15 by halftime, when they trailed 32-19.

Seven more third-quarter points from Welch allowed Reed-Custer (12-14) to stay within striking distance at 43-28 entering the fourth, but with Welch held to only a late 3-pointer from there, the Comets failed to keep pace.

"I thought the second quarter, we started to climb back," Reed-Custer coach Nick Klein said. "The physicality that Seneca brings ... we're learning to be physical like that."

Welch ended her career with the Comets by scoring more than 71 percent of their points, finishing with 25. She was 7 for 12 from the field, 5 for 8 from 3-point land and 6 for 8 from the free-throw line. Morgan Zacharias, with six points, was the only other Comet with more than a single basket.

"I just kept looking, and then I felt like I had to something because either we didn't get a possession where we could shoot the ball, or we got a good possession and would pass it off," Welch said. "I just felt like I needed to shoot the ball to help my team."

For Seneca, which will play for its third regional championship in four years tonight, the contrast was striking. Four players had at least nine points, and seven had at least four. Misener's 17 points were a team high to which Baker added 11, Hauch added 10 and Lamboley added nine to go with seven rebounds, five assists and four steals.

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