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— Using the same game plan that had worked so well all season, Birmingham Marian used great pressure on defense and took advantage of the fast break on offense to win another Catholic League A-B girls basketball title Sunday afternoon at Calihan Hall.

Marian failed to hit its shots early on against Dearborn Divine Child but found its stride midway through the first quarter of a 63-39 victory that gave coach Mary Cicerone her 14th Catholic League division title.

The teams helped their cause by hitting most of their free throws, but Marian (16-1, 9-0) began to pull away midway through the second quarter after a 10-0 run put it up by 11 points, forcing Divine Child's Mary Laney to call a timeout to calm her girls down.

"(Marian's) No. 1 in the state for a reason. They're a phenomenal team," Laney said.

Marian led by 10 at halftime on the back of a 17-10 second quarter, thanks in large part to Bailey Thomas, who led all scorers with 17 points. But Cicerone was not particularly pleased with her team's early performance.

"We got after them at halftime and said, 'You're not playing our kind of game.' Trouble is, you play a team three times, you know what they're doing," Cicerone said. "We got our act together and we beat a pretty good team."

"It's always hard to play them a third time," said Thomas. "We got yelled at pretty bad at halftime, so we wanted to prove to coach that we deserved to be here."

In the third quarter, Marian started separating from Divine Child (11-6, 5-4) even more, stretching its advantage to 20 points.

Marian already had defeated Divine Child twice this season, by at least 24 points each time.

"I was much more pleased with the second half," Cicerone said. "We got a little better pressure on the ball, and a lot better pressure off the ball."

Not much changed in the fourth and with 4:26 left in the game, both teams pulled their starters with Marian up by 27.

"They did everything I asked them to do. We did have them on their heels for a little bit, but we had to really work hard for every bucket we got," Laney said.

Kara Holinski (13 points) and Samantha Thomas (12) also hit double figures for Marian.

Riley Blair scored 12 points and Hailey Case had 11 for Divine Child.

Gabriel Richard wins C-D

Natalie Loewengruber scored 15 and Riverview Gabriel Richard defeated defending champion Madison Heights Bishop Foley, 37-26, for the Catholic League C-D championship. Mary Pizzo chipped in nine points for Gabriel Richard (8-7, 4-4).

Jessica Russo had eight points and Renee Fischer had seven for Bishop Foley (12-5, 8-3).

Blake Meakin is a freelance writer

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