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Marques Warrick finds a way to get it done as he makes history as NKU’s all-time leading scorer

By Dan Weber
NKyTribune sports reporter

This is how you do it as an “under-recruited” high school athlete who just wanted to prove he could play Division I basketball and in four years, does just that and so much more, becoming his school’s all-time leading scorer.

Marques Warrick was ticking off the ways you do it after his 22-point effort in a 79-67 Horizon League win over a winless Detroit Mercy team Saturday vaulted him into the No. 1 career scoring leader at Northern Kentucky University.

Marques Warrick on a postgame radio after his record-breaking game.

You don’t miss your chances. “I don’t think I ever missed a game,” the senior from Lexington’s Henry Clay High School said.

And you don’t miss free throws. The three points that gave him the record came after being fouled in the dead corner on an inbounds play.

The crowd roared. The scoreboard told them he needed just those three points. And now, with 4:37 left in the game, he would get three shots.

Swish . . . Swish . . . and as the crowd of 3,119 that had roared when he was fouled proceeded to hold its collective breath, knowing he needed just this last one to eclipse Drew McDonald’s 2.066 points, Warrick aimed and fired.

Dead silence. Then swish.

Just the way Warrick almost always does it, knocking down 85.9 percent of his free throws this season and all six this game. So what if he had as difficult a game from distance, missing every one of his eight three-point attempts (“I’m not sure he’s ever done that before,” NKU Coach Darrin Horn said with a shake of his head).

“You do it another way,” the man his teammates call ‘Ques, said, “you get to the line.”

Which is what great scorers do. They find a way.

The look of a focused shooter — Marques Warrick at the line. (Photo by Dale Dawn/NKyTribune)

He made eight of his 11 two-point attempts, the majority of them with his right hand even though he’s left-handed. Go ahead, play him on his left hand, as Detroit Mercy did on his drives to the basket, he’ll just go with the other hand so naturally, take that little hop, skip and jump sideways move and put the ball through the net as easily as you could ever want.

“You don’t do what he’s done without handling a lot of adversity,” Horn said of a player he would not have predicted would be NKU’s all-time leading scorer coming out of high school – at least not until after his freshman season — even though he had already done just that at one of Kentucky’s premier high schools – Lexington Henry Clay – where he scored 1,909 points.

Fellow senior Trey Robinson signed the same day as Warrick four years ago and after playing AAU ball with him, told himself, “He’s pretty good.” But the “all-time leading scorer?” . . . maybe he wouldn’t go that far.

But ‘Ques did. “Continuing to stay with it,” he said of how you get to this moment, as the emotions spilled out. “A lot of emotion,” he said. “This is one of the reasons I came here.” To prove himself – and “to win basketball games,” he said, “there’s a lot that goes into it.”

Especially when you’re listed at 6-foot-2 and weigh 185 pounds, up from 170 when you signed, you have to find a way. Every day. As ‘Ques did Saturday.

“I know this is what I wanted to do,” he said of a career that has taken him – or maybe it’s the other way around – to the NCAA Tournament last season and a down-to-the-wire matchup with No. 1 seed Houston. And one he hopes will take him to the next level. As all three NKU seniors hope to do.

“We don’t recruit anybody who doesn’t want to go pro,” Horn says, although his NKU program “has a 100 percent graduation rate,” he notes.

“We’re just so happy for him,” Robinson said of his classmate. “It was cool, a surreal moment,” said grad student Michael Bradley, in his first season at NKU after transferring from Mercyhurst College in Erie, Pa.

Michael Bradley is playing as well as anyone in the league, says Coach Darrin Horn. (Photo by Dale Dawn/NKyTribune)

In a world where actions don’t always speak louder than the words people throw out there, ‘Ques lets his actions speak for him, circling the entire Truist Arena playing floor after the game, shaking hands with every Norse fan he could reach.

He thanked all his former “teammates, coaches, grad assistants,” who helped him get here.

And then he was asked what his mother, Therese Wright, an ordained minister who came to the U.S. from Belize in Central America at the age of 24 as a divorced mother with her son, meant to him? And that was it.

“Everything,” he said softly while tearing up and barely being able to be heard, “she’s been by my side since Day 1.”

“Don’t cry, man,” Robinson consoled, smiling and maybe tearing up himself just a bit.

How big a deal is something like this, Horn answered his own question. “Instead of ‘one-and-done’ it’s the transfer portal” working against career records. ‘Ques could have left. Could have sought greener pastures moving up in Division I. But he didn’t.

He stayed. And had an arena singing his praises and shaking his hand and thanking him for making Highland Heights his home.

And yes, he did know he needed those three free throws to break the record. “Even if I didn’t know, I’d have known the way everybody was screaming,” he said with a grin.

As for the game that rightly played second-fiddle Saturday, the win improved NKU to 13-12 on the season and 8-6 in the Horizon. And it gave NKU a season sweep over a Detroit Mercy team that proves Horn’s transfer portal point with nine transfers on its roster from four-year schools.

Warrick acknowleges the crowd’s response to his record-breaking night. (Photo by Dale Dawn/NKyTribune)

“I’m really proud of our group and the way they came out with energy,” Horn said of a game that saw NKU leading for 33:16 with its largest lead, 61-42, with 7:29 left. “It’s not a secret, if our bigs come out and play, we’ve got a chance.”

NKU’s 6-8 LJ Wells had a double-double with 13 points, 10 rebounds. Six-foot-9 Keeyan Itejere had nine points, eight rebounds. And the 6-6 Robinson had 10 points with six rebounds as NKU won the battle of the boards, 42-33.

And we haven’t mentioned point guard Bradley, who scored 16 points with six assists against just two turnovers. “Michael Bradley is playing as well as anyone in our league,” Horn said.

NKU, in a fifth-place tie with Cleveland State at 8-6 now heads out to finish the season with four of its last six on the road, where the Norse are 3-9 on the season (3-4 in the Horizon). The challenge will be to finish in the top four and earn a first-round home playoff game before heading to Indianapolis for the four-team semifinals. NKU will play at Green Bay Wednesday at Milwaukee Saturday.



DETROIT MERCY (0-26, 0-15 Horizon League): Manciel 0-6 0-5 0-0 0, Stone 9-20 3-9 3-4 24, Del Cadia 5-10 0-1 3-5 13, Tankersley 11-17 2-3 0-0 24, Kuac 1-4 0-3 0-0 2, Davis 0-0 0-0 0-0 0, Schwannecke 1-1 0-0 0-0 2, Legreair 1-1 0-0 0-0 2; TOTALS: 28-59 5-21 6-9 67.

NORTHERN KENTUCKY (13-12, 8-6 Horizon): Robinson 3-9 0-3 4-6 10, Bradley 5-13 4-6 2-2 16, Warrick 8-19 0-8 6-6 22, Itejere 3-4 0-0 2-3 8, Wells 5-7 2-2 1-3 13, Pettus 3-7 2-3 0-0 8, Israel 1-4 0-2 0-0 2, Tchilombo 0-1 0-0 0-0 0; TOTALS: 28-64 8-24 15-20 79.

Contact Dan Weber at dweber3440@aol.com. Follow him on X (formerly Twitter) @dweber3440.


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