Victory laps are more commonly associated with another sports venue in Indianapolis, but Bankers Life Fieldhouse did the trick on Saturday. Behind Sophia Nolan's second 26-point, 15-rebound opus in as many games, Marquette soared to a 57-36 victory over Rivet to clinch its second consecutive Class A state title.
The win capped off a dominant four-year run highlighted by a 99-13 record that included four sectional titles, two regional crowns, and two state championships.
Sophia and Emma Nolan, who finished with 12 points, six boards, and three assists herself, leaned on the high-low for the first two baskets of the day while Marquette's defense put the Rivet offense in a straitjacket.
A week after failing to convert on any of their 18 attempts from beyond the arc, the Lady Blazers exorcized the shooting demons of Slicer Gymnasium when Claire Salyer and Sophia Nolan nailed threes in the final three-and-a-half minutes of the opening period to give Marquette a 13-6 first-quarter lead.
Four Lady Blazers collaborated on a 15-1 scoring surge that proved to be the beginning of the end for the Lady Patriots. Marquette's cushion, which swelled to as many as 18 points in the first half, was 27-13 at the intermission.
Sophia Nolan amassed 11 points, seven boards, two assists, and two blocks by halftime while Salyer recorded seven points and a pair of steals.
Any inkling of hope for a Rivet comeback was squashed by Sophia Nolan, who took over Bankers Life Fieldhouse in the third quarter. She went 3-for-3 from beyond the arc in addition to a pair of layups during a 13-point, four-rebound stanza. Senior point guard Emmery Joseph assisted on five of Marquette's seven field goals in the third quarter as the team led 44-23 with eight minutes remaining.
Six Marquette players recorded points in the final frame as all 12 players saw the court.
Senior Morgan Crook, who accompanied Joseph and Sophia Nolan atop the state's record book for most career games played (112), tallied two of her three steals in the second half.
Despite a result that was determined minutes before the final horn, the celebration was no less subdued than a year ago when the Lady Blazers sweated out a 38-31 triumph over the same Rivet squad.
For a ten-member senior class, Saturday represented the curtain call for a group that established lofty standards, and yet, managed to raise the bar at nearly every turn. In a few short months they'll fan out across the country: some east, a few west, others south. Saturday's victory lap took them north, though, from Indianapolis back to Michigan City as two-time state champions.