Lauren Fischer fires a pass during a fast break against Pleasant Plains in the Class 2A Riverton Sectional Semifinals.

RIVERTON - The Marquette Catholic Lady Explorers season came to an end at the hands of the Pleasant Plains Lady Cardinals 45-23 in the Class 2A Riverton Sectional Semifinals.

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The Lady Explorers struggled to get points for a vast majority of the game, and the Lady Cardinals had plenty to do with that.

[Pleasant Plains] get[s] up in you, try to turn you over and speed you up a little bit, and that happened to us,” Marquette head coach Lee Green said. “We got some good looks, but we just couldn’t finish. We just couldn’t put the ball in the hole tonight.”

Peyton Kline led Marquette with nine points, while Lauren Fischer added five. Grace Dennis and Brooklyn Taylor each chipped in three.

Pleasant Plains were balanced with ten points coming from Ali Fraase and Anna Kannlakan. Emily Long added six with Caroline Jachino, Asya Smith, and Maddie Dossett all scoring five.

The Lady Explorers started out brightly with Kline hitting two three-pointers to put them up 6-2 early on. From then on it was all Pleasant Plains.

The Lady Cardinals closed out the first half with an 18-7 run to lead 20-13 at halftime. Both teams implemented full-court presses, but it was the constant pressure put on by the guards of Pleasant Plains that forced Marquette to move the ball with quick precision.

“We knew the defense they play; they help a lot, so the back end of our offense gets a lot of open shots. That’s why the plays we’re running early to get her looks worked, but I knew when [Kline] had nine of our first 13 points that we have to have somebody else put the ball in the hole,” Green said. “We were right there. At halftime, it was a seven-point game.”

Lila Snider attempts to chase down a loose ball at half-court next to Ali Fraase (1) and Asya Smith (11).

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Pleasant Plains would assert their authority in the second half.

The Lady Cardinals made 6-of-17 three-pointers in the game and drilled three of them in the third quarter to start pulling away. At the same, the Lady Explorers couldn’t buy a bucket and didn’t make a field goal. Pleasant Plains outscored Marquette 15-2 in the third quarter and led 35-15.

They ended up outscoring Marquette 43-16 since the Lady Explorers led 6-2 in the first quarter.

What was perhaps the most significant shock in the game was the Lady Cardinals out-rebounding the taller Lady Explorers 45-29 on the boards, including 18 offensive rebounds.

“That was one thing we talked about yesterday. We can’t let them beat us to the glass and get second-chance points. They just crushed us on the boards,” Green said. “I think late in the third, and early in the fourth we knew that we were beat and they were beating us to the ball every time.”

The Lady Explorers can look back on this season with great pride as they won their first regional championship since 2012 and earned their first 20-win season since 1999-2000.

“It was a very successful season. That was a first 2A regional for Marquette. [Our first] 20-win season since most of these girls were in pampers or not even born yet,” Green said. “I told them I couldn’t be happier. I've coached basketball at different levels than this but is one of my most rewarding years ever in my coaching career. It really is.”

Taylor Aguirre (2) dribbles in the back-court as Caroline Jachino (4) guards her.

Lila Snider guarding Ali Fraase of Pleasant Plains on the baseline.

Lauren Fischer dribbles out of trouble with Taylor Aguirre blocking off Emily Long (23).

Payton Connors (25) looks for an open teammate as Ali Fraase (1) guards her.

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