Not much separates the Summit and Marquette girls basketball programs.
Divided by less than 15 miles, the schools, who are both part of the Rockwood School District, got a little closer Friday night.
In a form of harmonic convergence, both Summit and Marquette won their first district titles in school history within minutes of each other.
It was one of the biggest nights in girls basketball for many in the Rockwood School District, including Marquette junior guard Autumn Brown, who has played with and against girls on both teams in AAU basketball and at the high school level.
“I’m proud of them, I’m so happy for them,” Brown said of Summit. “Especially for Jasmine (Manuel) because I’ve been playing with her for so many years. You know, I’m glad that we both got to do this on the same day.”
With Summit’s 41-34 victory over Lutheran South and Marquette’s 64-61 win over Lafayette, both teams advanced to the sectional round.
Summit (17-10) will play Miller Career at 7:45 p.m. Tuesday at Kirkwood in a Class 4 sectional while Marquette (16-10) will face Parkway Central at 7:45 p.m. Wednesday at Lindenwood University in a Class 5 sectional.
Marquette coach Tim Bowdern said he’s excited to share both school’s success with Summit coach Dustin Hays.
“Anytime you have sister schools win for the first time, it is something special,” Bowdern said. “I know (Hays) has taken some lumps the past couple years as well as (I have at) Marquette. It’s nice to see us on the rise.”
Marquette has turned things around after an 11-16 finish last season. Summit had an even bigger turnaround, improving its win total by 10 after finishing 6-20 a season ago.
Kennedi Watkins leads Marquette in scoring, averaging 16.7 points per game while Manuel leads Summit with 14.7 points a game.
Manuel said she’s excited to see success for both sides.
“Winning this is one thing, but having my friends get to experience the energy of this is something special,” Manuel said. “It’s really good to know. It’s a great feeling.”
Marquette beat Summit 62-53 on Dec. 14, but the opposing coaches have found a common bond.
“It’s awesome,” Hays said. “Tim is a good friend of mine and I respect what he did at Marquette. I’m happy for them.”
While Marquette has won three straight games and Summit seven, both teams will face tall orders in their respective sectional matchups.
Parkway Central (21-6) and Miller Career (17-7) both boast formidable lineups.
Hays said he, for one, wouldn’t count out the Falcons.
“This feels unbelievable,” Hays said. “The girls worked hard all year long. This wasn’t necessarily a goal we set. We wanted to keep getting better every day. In December, they started to believe we could do big things by working. I’m proud of how hard the girls have worked.”
Both sides will be vying for a spot in the quarterfinals.
If Summit advances, they will face the winner of the Cape Girardeau Central-Park Hills Central sectional in a quarterfinal on Saturday.
A win for Marquette would get them a spot in a quarterfinal against the Cor Jesu-Jackson winner on Saturday.