HENRY — Marquette senior Curtiss Johnson feels the Crusaders played their first complete game Monday night.
The result was an easy 64-36 victory over Midland in a Class 1A Henry Regional quarterfinal.
“We came out and played hard,” Johnson said. “We kept the tempo up. We finally kind of played our first full game of the season. We’ve had streaks where we’ve played well the second half or the first half. It’s kind of nice to get a full game in where we want to be, and hopefully, we take that forward.”
The fourth-seeded Crusaders (13-15) move forward to face No. 1-seeded Henry at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.
“(Henry is) a good, solid ball club,” Marquette coach Mike McDonald said. “They’re big and they’re physical. The (Nathan) Helle kid can play inside-outside. We’re going to probably have to play our best game of the year to get by them, that’s for sure.”
The Mallards beat Marquette 44-38 on Dec. 7 in Henry.
“(Last time) it was a close game right down to the end, but they really outhustled us that night,” McDonald said. “We were lucky to be in it at the end. I’m sure we’ll be ready to play (Wednesday), and hopefully, we can get to all the loose balls.”
McDonald also hopes Monday’s big win benefits the Crusaders.
“It’s nice to get on this floor, get used to it and get comfortable because we have the No. 1 seed come Wednesday,” McDonald said. “It always helps us to be out here while they’re sitting there watching.”
Anyone watching Monday saw the Crusaders jump on the No. 5-seeded Timberwolves in the first quarter.
Two 3-pointers by Midland’s Nick Varvil kept the Timberwolves close at 7-6, but the Crusaders closed the first quarter on a 12-0 run to lead 19-6 entering the second quarter.
“Coach was stressing defense and pushing the tempo up, trying to run the floor on them,” Johnson said. “That’s kind of what we did and it broke open a little bit.”
The Crusaders pressured Midland in the full court and the half court.
Marquette pestered Midland into 24 turnovers and limited the Timberwolves (7-21) to 28 percent shooting (14-of-50).
“We started out in man-to-man just to get the game flowing in our direction,” McDonald said. “I think our bench brings a lot more to the game (than Midland’s). I don’t think they’re as deep as us. We had a lot of legs tonight. We made it a full-court game. We got them a little bit ahead of themselves a lot, and it worked out well for us.”
The Crusaders, meanwhile, shot 53.1 percent from the floor (26-of-49) and 85.7 percent from the free throw line (12-of-14).
“We moved the ball nicely,” Johnson said. “We didn’t force anything. We waited for everything to happen, it came to us and we took the shots we were supposed to.”
The Crusaders had three three-point plays in the first quarter to help them build the early lead, which they extended to 35-15 by halftime en route to their fourth win over Midland this season.
“We gave them three and-ones, so they got nine easy points there,” Midland coach Jeff Herkelman said. “We had turnovers. We got shots and our shots didn’t fall. That’s the way it’s been all year.”
Kevin Chlum can be reached at 220-6939, or at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsEditor.