Grobbel delivers for Marian, Mustangs repeat as Catholic League champs
Detroit – Great coaches make adjustments that work and Mary Cicerone of Birmingham Marian knows how to coach.
Marian split its two games with Farmington Hills Mercy during the Catholic League season and when the two rivals met for the A-B Division title on Sunday Cicerone unveiled a new look.
Cicerone had 6-1 senior Elizabeth Grobbel stand in the paint defensively in an attempt to clog the middle against a shorter Mercy squad and the move proved stifling for the Marlins.
Grobbel had her best game of the season as she had 14 points, 14 rebounds and two blocks to lead Marian to a 48-29 victory at Calihan Hall.
It’s Marian’s 13th league championship and second straight.
Grobbel had all seven of her team’s points in the first quarter and had 12 at halftime as the Mustangs shot to a 19-7 lead.
Mercy (14-5), which won the title in 2014, was 2-of-17 from the field in the first half and had just five rebounds to 19 for Marian.
The Marlins made a brief run in the fourth cutting Marian’s lead to 38-27 on Jackie Bauer’s 3-point play with 4:40 left but managed just two points thereafter.
“As a senior I wanted to leave a lasting legacy,” Grobbel said. “It was my best, both offensively and defensively. I’m going out with a bang.”
Grobbel is one of two seniors on the team and the only one who starts.
Cicerone did not return a starter from last season’s Class A championship team and a third senior, McKenna Landis, suffered an ACL injury before the season. Landis was slotted to be the starting point guard.
The Mustangs improved greatly as the season progressed. Cicerone has been able to mold her players, develop a better rotation and, in the title game, they executed as well as they have all season.
Having Grobbel hold her position near the basket took Mercy’s dribble drives out of the equation.
“It worked to our advantage,” Grobbel said. “Just size-wise, with me having my hands in the air, it made it hard for them to shoot over me. I like playing help defense. It made sense.”
Mercy defeated Marian, 32-25, on Feb. 2 and Cicerone didn’t like what she saw and decided to switch things up.
“What we planned worked,” she said. “The first time we played them they pressed (Marian won, 50-38) and the second time they didn’t press. I have someone who’s 6-1. Me, I like to pressure but we had to change our strategy.
“This year I’m working (hard). Last year I could throw the ball out and we’d win. These kids don’t have the basketball IQ that last year’s team had. Elizabeth was the one who set the tone.”
Lauren Montalbano added 10 points for Marian, all in the second half. Madeline Laurencelle had six points, seven rebounds and two blocks. Hannah Redoute (nine points) and Olivia Moore (four points) had solid games in the backcourt.
Jackie Bauer scored eight points for Mercy. Jordyn Schluter had seven points and five rebounds.
Marian held a 33-19 edge in rebounds.
“We came out, even after the time out I called (2:38 left in the first quarter), we were playing with no energy,” Mercy coach Gary Morris said. “We want to win and everything. It was disappointing.
“Grobbel was just steady in the paint, daring us to shoot. We didn’t hit shots early and that was probably nerves.”
Marian (13-6) will play No. 4-ranked Detroit King (16-1) on Thursday in the Operation Friendship championship game at mercy at 7 p.m. Mercy will play Detroit Renaissance (15-4) in the consolation game at 5.