Eagles grounded in first-ever regional

Dakota Barkley and Jalen Paul were named all-conference in the Northeast Corner Conference last week. The pair led the Eagles in scoring with about 20 points per game apiece. Left, Barkley goes up for a shot in the regional opener Saturday morning at North Judson. Above, Paul led the Eagles with 30 points in the team’s last game of the season Saturday.

Dakota Barkley goes up for a shot in the regional opener Saturday morning at North Judson.

Eli Foote, right, embraces his big brother, Luke, in an emotional final game for the Eagles. Churubuso fell in the regional semifinal game to Marquette Catholic Saturday morning in North Judson.

KPC NEWS SERVICE

NORTH JUDSON — This wasn’t the way Churubusco wanted it to go.

A week after the Eagles’ boys basketball team claimed its first-ever sectional title, head coach Chris Paul and his boys saw their season come to an end in a 75-64 loss to Marquette Catholic in the opening round of the North Judson Regional, Saturday.

“I’m proud of where we got to. Today, Marquette Catholic was just a little bit better,” Paul said.

The Blazers used a 48-point second half outburst to down the Eagles, who end the season with a 17-9 record.

“We knew that they could shoot the ball, and it was everyone. Everybody was doing it,” said Churubusco senior Dakota Barkley. “Their defense was impeccable, there was nowhere to go. You have to give them all the credit in the world.”

Another senior, point guard Jalen Paul, led the Eagles with a game-high 30 points, including six threes, in the loss.

Following Jalen Paul’s lead, Barkley added 16 points, while Luke Foote contributed seven.

Marquette controlled the pace of the opening period behind seven points from Buddy Jaffee.

Churubusco tied the game three times in the period, at nine, 11 and 17 points before Paul converted a buzzer-beating three to give the Eagles their first lead of the night, 20-17 after the first.

The Blazers held the Eagles scoreless for more than half of the ensuing period, retaking the lead early on behind a jumper from Jalen Russell, at 21-20, and leading by as many as five, 25-20.

’Busco responded, though, outscoring Marquette 8-2 in the final two minutes of the half, with yet another buzzer-beater from Paul putting the Eagles up 28-27 at the break.

Then the Blazers’ offense caught fire, powered by 17 second half points from Colin Kenney.

Marquette led by as many as 10 in the third quarter, 50-40, before ’Busco was able to claw its way back into it, down 52-48 entering the fourth quarter.

The Eagles kept the game within reach for much of the game’s final act, but 16 Blazer points in the game’s final three minutes closed the curtains on Churubusco’s season.

It was a heart-breaking end to a historic season for Churubusco.

However, despite the outcome, the experience will prove invaluable for the Eagles moving forward.

“Experience is priceless,” Chris Paul said. “You look at the teams that are here, they know the routine and they expect to win. This was all brand new to us.”

Barkley echoed his coach’s sentiments.

“They know what it feels like now,” Barkley said of his returning teammates. “They know what it feels like to cut down the nets after sectionals, but they also know how hard you have to work to make it happen.

“Nobody gets a free ride here. It’s all about heart and working hard. I wouldn’t be surprised if these guys are back here next year.”

Marquette Catholic went on to win the regional title after beating Gary Roosevelt 67-65 Saturday night. The Blazers will face Frankton this Saturday.

Marquette Catholic 75, Churubusco 64

Marquette 17 10 25 23 — 75

Churubusco 20 8 20 16 — 64

Marquette: Russell 0 0-0 0, Kenney 8 6-6 25, Goodman 1 0-0 2, Donaldson 0 0-0 0, Gotsch 0 0-0 0, Jon. Andershock 2 0-1 4, Jaffee 4 4-4 13, Willoughby 3 2-3 8, Joe Andershock 6 0-1 14, Arthur 0 0-0 0, Cruz 3 2-2 9, Totals: 27 14-17 75.

Churubusco: L. Foote 2 1-2 7, Stanley 1 0-0 2, Paul 12 0-1 30, E. Foote 0 0-0 0, Du. Barkley 0 1-2 1, Da. Barkley 6 3-4 16, Amber 0 0-0 0, Mullins 1 0-0 2, Bonar 3 0-0 6, Simons 0 0-0 0, Totals: 25 5-10 64.

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