Kilyn Bulluck (3), Birmingham Marian, forces her way past Dearborn Devine Child defender Riley Blair during Catholic High School League championship basketball action at University of Detroit Mercy's Calihan Hall Sunday, Feb. 17, 2013. (Special to The Oakland Press / LARRY McKEE)
Basketball - Girls
GIRLS BASKETBALL: Marian wins 13th CHSL title, its first in three seasons WITH VIDEO
Laura Bruton, Birmingham Marian, drives hard to the basket during Catholic High School League championship basketball action against Dearborn Divine Child at University of Detroit Mercy's Calihan Hall Sunday, Feb. 17, 2013. Madeline Barnauskas (32), Divine Child, is also pictured. (Special to The Oakland Press / LARRY McKEE)
Bailey Thomas, Birmingham Marian, dishes off a pass during Catholic High School League championship basketball action against Dearborn Divine Child at University of Detroit Mercy's Calihan Hall Sunday, Feb. 17, 2013. (Special to The Oakland Press / LARRY McKEE)
Kamry Peake, Birmingham Marian, goes up for a shot in traffic during Catholic High School League championship basketball action against Dearborn Divine Child at University of Detroit Mercy's Calihan Hall Sunday, Feb. 17, 2013. (Special to The Oakland Press / LARRY McKEE)
DETROIT — It’s probably appropriate that the floor at University of Detroit’s Calihan Hall had been renamed “Dick Vitale Court” since the last time Birmingham Marian had been there as a contender for the Catholic League title.
After all, it was a couple of kids ESPN’s loquacious Vitale would dub “Diaper Dandies” who led the Mustangs to their first title in three seasons with a 57-44 win over defending champ Dearborn Divine Child in Sunday’s CHSL A-B finals, bringing the trophy back to Birmingham.
“It’s good. I think it’s where it belongs, actually,” said senior Kilyn Bulluck, who played a complementary role to that pair of youngsters.
Freshman Bailey Thomas had 11 points, and sophomore Kara Holinski had 13, as the Mustangs (17-2) pulled away in the second quarter, then took the best punch the Falcons (13-6) could muster to start the second half, before pulling away again.
The result is hardly new, though.
Sunday’s win gave Marian its CHSL-record 13th girls basketball title in coach Mary Cicerone’s 30 years of coaching. Livonia Ladywood is next with five titles in the league’s highest division, while three other schools have four each.
None of the players on Marian’s roster this year had contributed to another one of those titles, though, making the experience a first time for everyone.
Divine Child, on the other hand, had been there just a year ago — beating Farmington Hills Mercy, 53-36, for the title — and that showed in how the Falcons played early on in both halves.
In the first half, Divine Child had the tempo at its pace, playing a zone, and frustrating the Marian shooters.
“The first half, they really come out aggressive in their zone, they really spread us out, and we didn’t attack it very well, until the second quarter, when we made our little run,” Cicerone said.
“But that took us out a little bit, until we adjusted to it.”
One of the adjustments was unleashing Thomas, who had nine of her 11 points in the second quarter. She hit a 3-pointer to give the Mustangs a bit of breathing room for the first time, then had a chance at a traditional three-point play with a driving layup with 1:04 left in the half. Those two scores were sandwiched around a pair of fast-break hoops, the last coming on a coast-to-coast with 10 seconds left, giving Marian a 30-20 lead at the break.
“I got after them. I like to get after her, because it’s not the same when a parent gets after you,” said Cicerone, acknowledging the addition of Thomas’ dad, Derek Thomas, to this year’s coaching staff. “She was playing a little — I wanna say, shy — and she lost a little confidence somewhere. I told her, there’s no way she’d be out there (if I didn’t believe in her), and she responded. She played a great game.”
Marian’s 10-point halftime lead wouldn’t last, though, as Divine Child put on a 10-0 run over the first 4:30 of the second half to tie it at 30-30.
“Up and down. That’s how it goes. We came out a little flat, and I had to rotate some kids in. Kamry (Peake) kept getting fouls, so we couldn’t go in our regular press. We just came out a little flat. We didn’t rotate well. They hit some shots, they came out with a little energy,” Cicerone said.
“We got our defense going, got some good looks. You get some good looks, make some baskets, it gets you right back up.”
Holinski answered with a 3-pointer 30 seconds later, and the game was never tied again. The sophomore shooter was perhaps more consistent a scoring threat than Thomas, chipping in with a three-point play in the first quarter, and a 3-pointer in the second quarter, before her go-ahead triple in the third. She’d even hit a hook shot on an inbounds play with 2.7 seconds left, sending the Mustangs to the fourth quarter with a 39-36 lead.
Coupling stifling defense — which held Divine Child scoreless for the first 2:40 of the fourth — with a pair of driving buckets by Laura Bruton, and Marian just needed to hit free throws to salt it away. After Riley Blair’s 3-pointer with 5:20 left, ending an 8-0 Marian run, and cutting the lead to 45-39, the Falcons wouldn’t score again until the 2:35 mark.
The Mustangs made 7 of 12 free throws in the final 1:41 of the game to close out the win.
Riley Blair had 15 points to lead Divine Child, while Morgan Blair had 11, and Nicole Urbanick 10.
Both teams will participate in Operation Friendship on Thursday, playing a pair of games against the top two teams from the Detroit Public School League at Marian High School. The Falcons will take on PSL runner-up Cass Tech at 5 p.m., followed by Marian vs. No. 1-ranked King at 6:30 p.m.
Email Matthew B. Mowery at firstname.lastname@example.org.BIRMINGHAM MARIAN 57, DEARBORN DIVINE CHILD 44
MARIAN — Kilyn Bulluck 2 1-2 5; Kamry Peake 1 4-7 6; Elizabeth Grobbel 2 2-4 6; Brittany Gray 3 2-2 8; Bailey Thomas 3 (1) 2-2 11; Laura Bruton 4 0-0 8; Kara Holinski 2 (2) 3-3 13; Amanda Anguiano 0 0-2 0; Totals 17 (3) 14-24 57.
DIVINE CHILD — Lindsey Brewis (1) 0-0 3; Nicole Urbanick 1 (2) 2-4 10; Morgan Blair 3 5-6 11; Riley Blair 3 (3) 0-0 15; Mallory Myler 1 0-1 2; Hannah Brefeld 1 1-2 3; Totals 9 (6) 8-13 44.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
BM 12 18 9 18 — 57
DDC 13 7 16 8 — 44
Records: Divine Child 13-6, Marian 17-2