EagleHerald/Matt Lehmann
Marinette’s Katelyn Kitzinger fires off a one-handed shot as Luxemburg-Casco’s Lauren Adams defends during Thursday’s North Eastern Conference game in Marinette. Kitzinger scored a career-high 51 points, setting the new single-game record for Marinette.
EagleHerald/Matt Lehmann

Marinette’s Katelyn Kitzinger fires off a one-handed shot as Luxemburg-Casco’s Lauren Adams defends during Thursday’s North Eastern Conference game in Marinette. Kitzinger scored a career-high 51 points, setting the new single-game record for Marinette.

MARINETTE — For the second consecutive game, the Marinette girls basketball team found itself with the lead at halftime and fending off a second-half comeback from a North Eastern Conference opponent, but a career night from Katelyn Kitzinger helped the Marines hold off a late charge from Luxemburg-Casco to defeat the Spartans 86-80 on Thursday.

Kitzinger scored a career-high 51 points, setting the single-game scoring record for Marinette in the process, dropping 27 of them in the first half alone, while shooting 20-of-27 from the free throw line for the game. Eight different players scored for the Marines, who have now once two straight at home.

“To be honest, I had no idea how many points I had. You just got caught up in the game and it didn’t even feel like it,” Kitzinger said. “As a team, we played really well. We were communicating and we’ve been picking up on some things that we haven’t been doing in other games. We were hustling up and down the court and were really gelling as a team.”

“We knew coming into this game that it was going to be fast-paced,” added Marinette head coach Zac Barker. “Luxemburg-Casco has size, so we wanted to run and push the ball in transition. “Katelyn set that pace and made the other team be concerned about her and that opened things up in the corner for Auburn (Waloway) to hit some big 3-pointers for us. We made them have to sprint back to protect the paint and that opened things up for our other players. It’s fun to get another win at home and this game was really positive to see.”

In the previous meeting between the two teams, Kitzinger scored 37 points, putting her season average against the Spartans at an unbelievable 44 points per game.

The Marines (5-12 North Eastern Conference, 6-14 overall) held a 44-38 advantage at halftime, but the Spartans (4-13 NEC, 4-16 overall) quickly took a one-point lead behind buckets from Cassandra Flynn and Heather Dart along with free throws by Sophia Hanmann and Taylor Thiry. After a Marinette timeout, Kitzinger weaved her way through traffic for a layup to give the lead back to the Marines.

The two teams traded the one-point lead for four possessions until Lauren Adams nailed an open triple that put L-C up by two. Hanmann tacked on another score for the Spartans but Kitzinger scored nine unanswered points to make it a 60-55 advantage in favor of the Marines.  A floater and a triple from Adams pulled L-C within one, but Waloway sank a free throw while Kitzinger added another six to keep Marinette ahead by three.

The two teams once again exchanged baskets until Hannah Chenier drilled a 3-pointer to push Marinette’s lead to nine with 3 minutes, 25 seconds remaining. A layup from Dart and a free throw by Hanmann cut L-C’s deficit to six, but a euro-step layup by Kitzinger along with a free throw from Chenier once again made it a nine-point game.

The Spartans pulled within five after Lidia Stahl sank a pair of free throws, but the Marines countered with five free throws that made it an 86-78 game with 17.0 left. Hanmann added a garbage time layup for L-C to make it a 86-80 final score.

While Kitzinger’s big game will garner the most attention, Barker said that it took a collective effort to defeat the Spartans.

“We’ve had a lead at halftime our past two games, but the other team was always able to go on a run on put us away early in the second half. Tonight was a different result. We gave effort for 36 minutes and it’s not just Katelyn. Auburn came to play for us tonight, Hannah played very well and Jordan (Boettcher) played very well in the second half and didn’t let L-C get many rebounds.”

L-C opened the game with a 4-0 lead before Waloway and Lindsey Wingender each canned a triple and Kitzinger added a pull-up jumper to put the Marines ahead 8-4. The Spartans tied things up on a bucket by Adams, but a jumper from Amara Smalls and a layup by Sam Pieper pushed Marinette’s lead to four.

After tying the game on a triple by Adams, scores from Stahl and Flynn gave L-C its biggest lead of the day at four. A swipe-and-score from Kitzinger and a bucket by Chenier knotted the game up once again, and a free throw by Kitzinger gave Marinette a 19-18 lead with 10:06 remaining until halftime. L-C retook the lead off a basket by Lidia Stahl, but Waloway nailed another triple that put the Marines up by two.

After trading 3-pointers, the Marines jumped ahead by seven behind six consecutive points by Kitzinger. Chenier added a basket of her own before stealing the ball away from the Spartans and feeding Kitzinger for an easy layup in transition, while Kitzinger scored another eight points to give Marinette a seven-point lead headed into halftime.

Backing up Kitzinger’s monster game was Waloway with 15 points, eight from Chenier and five by Boettcher. The Spartans were led by 26 points from Adams, while Thiry chipped in 19 and Hanmann scored 15.

The Marines are back on the court Monday, hosting the Oconto Blue Devils at 7 p.m. on Parents’ Night.

LUXEMBURG-CASCO (80) — Adams 26, Thiry 19, Hanmann 15, Stahl 9, Dart 6, Flynn 5; FTs: 14-27

MARINETTE (86) — Kitzinger 51, Waloway 15, Chenier 8, Boettcher 5, Wingender 3, Smalls 2, Pieper 2; FTs: 23-39

Halftime score: Marinette 44, Luxemburg-Casco 38.