LAFAYETTE, Ind. — One more run.
That's all the Liberty Christian boys basketball team needed to keep its magical season rolling Saturday afternoon in the Class 1A semistate at Lafayette Jeff. But it never materialized.
Instead, third-ranked Marquette Catholic (20-6) opened the third quarter with a 9-1 spurt to take control of the game and held on for a 72-61 victory that ended the most successful postseason in the Lions' history.
"That's a good team, and we played well against them," Liberty Christian senior Preston Quinn said. "They just hit their shots at the right time, and we didn't."
The 10th-ranked Lions (20-7) shot just 31.3 percent from the floor in the second half and 35.3 percent overall. Trailing 35-33 at intermission, Liberty Christian opened the third quarter with three consecutive misses and fell behind 44-34 just more than three minutes into the period.
Head coach Jason Chappell sensed a flatness from his team and called a timeout to staunch the bleeding.
"They were just tight," he said. "We tried to keep them loose all week. But sometimes your nerves just get the best of you. I can't fault our guys' effort, though. They played hard."
The Lions' shooting remained ragged throughout the period — they finished just 4-for-16 from the floor — but their unrelenting competitive nature kept them in the game.
Liberty Christian scratched and clawed its way to 11 points in the quarter and pulled within seven at 51-44 with less than one minute left. But two empty possessions to end the period kept the Lions from getting any closer.
The Blazers opened the fourth quarter with an 11-2 run to take a commanding 62-48 lead with just 4:03 remaining. Then the Lions showed their fight again.
After Marquette Catholic extended its lead to a game-high 15 points at 66-51, senior Ben Bowen drained back-to-back 3-pointers that gave hope to the legion of Liberty Christian fans who'd made the two-hour trek halfway across the state.