HARTFORD CITY – Concordia Lutheran senior Marq Rogers' defensive resume is a long and illustrious one. And he's still adding to it.
Over the course of his four years on the basketball team, he has been charged with harassing, among others, Deshaun Thomas, Russell Byrd, James Blackmon Jr. and Bryson Scott.
In the Cadets' 67-58 Class 3A Blackford Regional title win on Saturday over Norwell, Rogers drew the assignment of high-scoring guard Josh VanMeter. He held VanMeter to 10 points.
“He's a great defender,” VanMeter said. “His length gave me problems. When he's 6-6 and I'm 5-11, it's hard to play against. They're just a great team.”
Rogers embraced the challenge, as usual.
“It's tough and all, but I just study their tendencies, watch film and do the best I can,” Rogers said. “I like defense because I like to frustrate offensive players and get my teammates going.”
Some of that defensive pressure helped key the Cadets' transition game as well, and opened things up for D.J. McCall to handle the offensive leadership.
McCall hit 12-of-17 shots in the championship game, scoring 26 points with five assists. Brian Gremaux and Thomas Starks added 13 points apiece.
Concordia (22-4) advances to play Andrean (22-3) in the Class 3A semistate on Saturday at Huntington North. The Class 2A game between Tipton and Bowman Academy starts at 1 p.m. Saturday, with Concordia-Andrean to follow.
No doubt Rogers will draw the toughest offensive player in that game, too.
Concordia coach Josh Eggold said he was talking with Rogers before the game about all the players he had guarded the last four years, starting with the 6-foot-7 Thomas. Rogers is a wiry 6-5.
“It seems a lifetime ago when (Rogers) guarded some of those kids when he was a freshman,” Eggold said. “He wants to guard the best in the city and the best in the state. Hopefully he's on his way to do that again next Saturday.”
Since VanMeter plays point guard, Rogers was able to disrupt Norwell's offense, but not completely. The Knights (18-7) hung tough through three quarters and cut Concordia's lead to four points in the fourth quarter, but Concordia always seemed to deliver the extra quality play.
Norwell put five players in double figures: David Vogel 13, Drew Shively 11 and VanMeter, Piercen Harnish and Cam Denney with 10 apiece.
But the big plays always seemed to go Concordia's way, whether it was Austin Harris' three-pointer before halftime or McCall's steal-and-dunk at the end of the third quarter.
“When they're hitting jump shots, I don't think anybody can beat them,” VanMeter said. “If they hit jump shots, they're going to state and they have a chance to win it. They're a great ball club. I hope they go and win it all.”
Concordia claimed its third regional title, adding to the 1989 and 2000 titles. The boys basketball team has never won a semistate.
“It's exciting,” Eggold said. “Our girls have dabbled in this the last three years getting deep (in the tourney) and it's nice to see the boys do that. These seniors have been such as blessing to our basketball family and our community at Concordia. They're just great kids and I'm proud of them.”
Norwell reached the state title game last season and reached the regional for the third straight season.
“Concordia is one heck of a team,” Norwell coach Randy Hawkins said. “They're tall, long, athletic and well-coached. You name it, they can do it. …Give them credit. They did some good things and took us out of the game.”
CONCORDIA LUTHERAN 67, NORWELL 58
Concordia - 20 15 17 15 – 67
Norwell - 16 16 12 14 – 58
Concordia - McCall 12-17 0-0 26, Gremaux 6-9 1-2 13, Starks 3-7 5-6 13, Gross 3-4 3-5 9, Rogers 1-4 1-3 3, Harris 1-4 1-4 3, Webb 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 26-45 10-16 67.
Norwell - Vogel 5-8 2-2 13, VanMeter 3-8 2-2 10, Denney 3-13 4-4 10, Harnish 4-5 2-3 10, Shively 3-8 2-3 11, Schumm 2-4 0-0 4, Hayden 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 20-46 12-14 58.
Three-point goals: C/5-14 (McCall 2-3, Starks 2-3, Harris 1-4, Gross 0-1, Rogers 0-2), N/6-14 (Shively 3-4, VanMeter 2-4, Schumm 1-1, Vogel 1-3, Denney 0-3). Rebounds: C/15 (Gross 5), N/27 (Denney 11). Assists: C/19 (Gross 7, McCall 5, Starks 5), N/13 (Denney 5).