Tiger girls start hot, stay hot against Watertown

MARSHALL There was no warm welcome for the visiting Watertown (S.D.) Arrows at Marshall High School on Saturday as the Tigers girls’ basketball team scored early and often in an 83-62 win. Marshall knocked down 27 field goals and was 23-for-31 from the free throw line while cracking the 80-point barrier for the third time this season.

The Tigers, ranked seventh in Class AAA, stormed out to a 24-9 lead with nine minutes, eight second remaining in the game’s opening half, as Kelsey Saugstad connected on a pair of 3-pointers on her way to eight points during the run.

As the primary ball handler for Marshall and one of the team’s go-to scoring options, the Tigers were dealt a potentially serious blow when Saugstad left the game late in the first half after re-aggravating a nagging ankle injury.

The Tigers did not dismay at the loss of one of their senior leaders, as the team worked together to fill the void. Hannah Bennett took over a large part of the offensive burden, scoring all of her game-high 20 points after Saugstad’s injury, while the Tigers also received a significant boost from their bench.

“I thought when Kelsey went out Hannah really did elevate her game, especially on the offensive end,” Marshall head coach Dan Westby said. “She really took charge of our team out there. I thought she really did a good job.

“I thought we had a number of other kids that came in and really did a nice job for us,” Westby added. “Lexi Saugstad came in during the first half and gave us a nice spark there, hit a couple of shots for us. When Kelsey came out we certainly needed somebody to pick up the slack.”

Watertown eventually worked its way into a rhythm as the pace of the game ratcheted up, but was unable to get within 10 points of the Tigers.

Leading 45-35 at halftime, Bennett knocked down a 3 while getting knocked to the floor herself. She swished the free throw to complete the rare four-point play and went on to hit three more 3s, putting up 16 points in the second half.

Kenzie Beekman scored on a putback with 6:06 remaining to give Marshall its largest lead of the game at 72-47. Beekman added 16 points and eight rebounds to the winning effort, while Callie Graff scored 12 points to reach double figures for the Tigers as well. Four other Marshall players scored at least seven points to secure the Tigers’ fifth-consecutive win.

Marshall (18-3 overall) converted 23 of its 31 free throw attempts in the game, whereas the Arrows were just 5-for-10.

The excellence on the offensive end was not mirrored on defense by the Tigers, however, as Marshall allowed the second most points the team has surrendered all season. With just five games remaining in the season, the defensive lapses are not a trend the Tigers would like to see carry over into the postseason.

“I thought there were a couple things that we didn’t do good job of defensively,” Westby said. “No. 1 was we just gave up too much dribble penetration and that was a frustration. Then I thought we just allowed them to have too many wide-open looks at the 3-point line. We just can’t do that, we had a difficult time locating.”

Shayli Kirsch led the Arrows (3-12) with 12 points, while Mandy Tetzlaff added 11. Danielle Duncan chipped in eight points for Watertown in defeat.

Marshall will travel to Windom on Tuesday to begin the final leg of the season before facing the Worthington Trojans in Worthington on Thursday.

Watertown (62)

Ashtin McClemans 3 0-0 6, Macy Denzer 1 0-2 3, Mandy Tetzlaff 5 1-2 11, Molly Despiegler 3 2-2 8, Danielle Duncan 3 2-2 8, Emily Pengilly 2 0-0 5, Shayli Kirsch 5 0-0 12, McKenzie Werner 3 0-2 6, Elli Stevenson 1 0-0 3. Totals 26 5-10 62. 3-pointers 5 (Kirsch 2) Total Fouls 24.

Marshall (83)

Sarah Buysse 3 1-2 7, Lexi Saugstad 3 1-2 7, Kelsey Saugstad 3 0-0 8, Kenzie Beekman 5 6-8 16, Callie Graff 4 4-4 12, Sarah Andersen 2 4-6 8, Hannah Bennett 6 4-5 20, Morgan Saugstad 1 0-0 2, Emma Doyle 0 2-2 2, Jackie Petrich 0 1-2 1. Totals 27 23-31 83. 3-pointers 6 (Bennett 4, K. Saugstad 2) Rebounds 29 (Beekman 8) Assists 17 (Bennett 4, Buysse 4) Steals 17 (K. Saugstad 5) Blocks 2 Total Fouls 13.

Halftime Score: Marshall 45, Watertown 35