In case the calendar didn't provide enough of a nudge, waking up to snow-covered rooftops this morning served as a stark reminder that winter is barreling towards us. Lake Michigan, which supplies our corner of the state with endless beauty and recreation during the summer months, flips into a winter-weather incubator. T-shirts and shorts descend into the cellar in favor of parkas and sweaters. Salt - not sand - collects in our shoes. And, in Indiana, popcorn - the unofficial scent of winter - emanates throughout high-school gymnasiums from Michigan City to Evansville.
Winter has never been kinder to Marquette fans than this past decade. The boys basketball team hoisted the bulkiest IHSAA-issued hardware in 2014 and returned to Bankers Life Fieldhouse the following season for an encore. Ryan Fazekas helped make Blazer Basketball must-see programming. The club has maintained a stan
dard of excellence since that special Saturday morning in Indianapolis four Marches ago. Marquette also owns five sectional championships and three regional titles in a five-year span.
Fresh off their first state championship in program history, the Lady Blazers are in the midst of cementing a legacy as one of the most dominant team
s Northwest Indiana has ever witnessed. Marquette has collected three consecutive sectionals and two straight regional crowns to go with its 2018 title. Including the first three games of this season, the Lady Blazers possess a 74-12 record dating back to November of 2015. The Scholl Center has not hosted a loss by this squad since January 26th, 2015, a stretch of 28 games that have included the likes of defending-state-champion South Bend St. Joseph and crosstown-rival Michigan City.
The rabid and riotous on-court success of these two teams has
fostered a fascinating sideshow. In his final postseason run, Fazekas (1,562 career poin
ts) broke Jim Retseck's 46-year-old record for most points scored by a Marquette basketball player at 1,474. (Following his collegiate career at Auburn, Retseck was selected by the
Golden State Warriors in the third round of the 1973 NBA Draft.) That mark won't last nearly as long thanks to the Class of 2019. As of this writing, three seniors project to rearrange the career scoring podium.
Sophia Nolan (1,505) became just the second player in scho
ol history to accumulate 1,500 points this past Tuesday when she posted 16 in the Lady Blazers' home opener. A metronome of offensive production
(15.9, 18.2, 18.3, 17.7 PPG) since her freshman year, Nolan can seize the scoring crown before December arrives.
Her stiffest source of competition will most likely come from her own sister. Emma enters next week's contests with 1,463 points, 42 back of Sophia. Sophia led Emma by 124 points following their sophomore campaigns, but the latter has closed the gap since the beginning of the 2017-18 season. The combo, which has committed to St. John's, is 32 points shy of reaching 3,000 combined career points. According to the IHSAA record books, they would become only the third duo in state history to do so.
While the girls season gets a head start on the boys, senior gu
ard Colin Kenney is also on track to climb toward the top of the chart. Kenney has rac
ked up 1,239 points through his first three seasons
with 1,085 of those coming ov
r the previous two. His scoring average vaulted from 5.7 points per game as a freshman to 17.2 the following year. As a junior, the Furman commit accrued 585 points for a 21.7 PPG average.
The race to 1,563 - and beyond - will be a compelling one. We invite you to the Scholl Center this winter to take refuge from the cold and take in what may be the greatest collection of hoops talent in Marquette history. We'll provide the popcorn.