TRAVERSE CITY — Traverse City West 2, Upper Peninsula 0.
The Titans shocked 19-2 Marquette 42-39 in a Class A district semifinal Wednesday at West.
It’s the second year in a row the Titans have upset a highly-touted Redettes squad, and this year’s came two days after West knocked off another quality U.P. team in 14-5 Sault Ste. Marie in overtime.
“I told the team we let it get away from us last year,” Titans coach Dave Ginsberg said. “We celebrated too much when we beat Marquette and we used up energy celebrating and we didn’t have enough at the end of that overtime game. Hopefully, we learned from that and can do some good on Friday.”
West will host Alpena in the district final Friday.
Kiley Kreple’s huge 3-pointer from the left wing with 1:21 left put West back in the lead for good after Marquette had rallied from 17 down.
Kreple said it was one of the biggest shots of her career.
“I saw that I had the open shot, so I just took it,” Kreple said.
Marquette led 10-8 after the first eight minutes, but West responded with perhaps its best quarter of the season, reeling off a 19-2 run as Kimmy Bilinski scored 12 of her team-high 16 points.
“We haven’t had a quarter like that all year,” Ginsberg said.
West was up as much as 31-14 in the late second quarter before Marquette chipped away at that lead for much of the second half.
“It got frustrating,” Kreple said. “But we played as a team and got together and did it for each other. It was awesome. We lifted each other up.”
It was the first time all season Marquette has been held under 40 points.
“We knew Marquette liked to run the ball,” Kreple said. “We had to get the right shots for us, and we couldn’t let their defense dictate what we wanted to do on offense. We just played our game and tried to get out on them on defense.”
The Redettes — a team comprised entirely of 10 juniors in the regular season — used several sophomores from its undefeated junior varsity team to fuel a third-quarter run to pull within 31-23 by the fourth quarter’s start.
Hunter Vitala led Marquette with 17 points, including six in a row to put the Redettes on top 36-35 for the first time since the early second quarter with 3:32 remaining before Terese Ledy’s jumper made it 38-35 with 3:30 left.
After a Paris Wagner free throw, Kreple’s triple put West up 39-38. Another Kreple lay-up and Wagner free throw accounted for the final margin as West’s defense held the Redettes to just one Amber Huebner free throw over the final three minutes.
“We played out of our minds,” Ginsberg said. “We’ve become a good defensive team. Especially when they cut that big lead down and took the lead — most teams would have folded, because they had regained the momentum. But we fought back and won, which you don’t see that much. When you lose it, it’s hard to get it back. And we got it back. The three Kreple hit was huge.”
West’s only two losses over the last 11 contests were by one point at Cadillac and at undefeated Manistee.
The Titans won 39-34 in last year’s district semifinal, but Marquette came back to Traverse City in December to rout West 42-16 in the Titan Christmas Classic Invitational.
Marquette coach Ben Smith and his team have been living on the road for the past four days, driving down Sunday to play Gaylord on Monday and staying in the Lower Peninsula instead of returning home in between district games. The team even took in the Glen Lake-TC St. Francis boys basketball game on Tuesday.
“Our energy in the third quarter is the energy we need all the time,” Smith said. “We need to have a spark. And we’re on the road for a few days.
“We showed in the second half with our effort and energy that we could do that. We just didn’t do enough of that in the second quarter. In the first quarter, we missed some opportunities that we could have put some distance between us. And next thing you know, we get outscored 19-2 in the second quarter, which isn’t good enough to win any game, let alone a Class A district game.”
After starting the season 1-9, the Titans have bounced back to win nine of their last 11 games — including a pair over Alpena.
“Having people sick and injured really hurt us,” Kreple said. “Having our whole team healthy again helped turn our season around.”