Tiger boys take down S.D.’s finest

MARSHALL – South Dakota’s top boys’ basketball team crossed into Minnesota for a game against Marshall Friday night boasting a perfect 15-0 record and an impressive resume. But the hometown Tigers were hot, too, and on this night, Sioux Falls Roosevelt had no way of cooling them down.

Marshall, the fourth-ranked team in Class AAA, jumped out to a 7-0 advantage and led wire to wire on its way to a 67-51 victory. The Tigers, who defeated then-third-ranked (Class AAA) Blake on Saturday, have now won eight straight games.

Junior guard Riley Sharbono scored 13 of his game-high 21 points in the first half to help the Tigers set the tone early. Marshall (19-2 overall) exploited the Rough Riders and their tight man-to-man full-court pressure by making the extra pass and cutting hard to the basket and led by as many as 11 in the first half.

Sharbono said the Tigers were excited to take on the challenge of facing an unbeaten squad, but didn’t let the atmosphere of the game take control of their play.

“It’s easy to get too hyped up for a game like this but you have to stay composed, and that’s what we did,” Sharbono said. “We handled their pressure really well and we shared the ball on offense, then defensively we limited them to one shot most of the time.”

The Tigers controlled the boards by a 45-32 margin and also had a huge edge at the free throw line. Up six eight minutes into the second half, Sharbono drew a foul to put Roosevelt over the limit. Marshall made a living at the foul line from there as the Tigers continued to attack the basket and pull away. They finished the game 30-for-38 at the line, while the Rough Riders were just 12-for-23.

Marshall shot 61 percent from the field in the first half to take control of the game, then went 19-for-25 at the foul line in the second half to put it away.

“It starts on the defensive end and we didn’t play very well defensively tonight,” Roosevelt head coach Lee Taylor said. “Give credit to Marshall for executing on offense and dictating play. They were doing what they wanted to do the entire night and we just couldn’t stop them.”

It was easy to see why Roosevelt has had so much success this season. Senior Nate Cole and the rest of the Rough Rider guards are quick with the ball and adept at attacking the basket to either score at the rim or kick out to open teammates.

But the Rough Riders couldn’t get their shots down low to go in, and their kick-outs didn’t lead to many points either. They finished shooting 28.5 percent from the field and made just three of 19 3-point attempts. Cole scored 15 points to lead the team and 6-foot-4 forward Brandon Boggs added 12 points as the two were the only Roosevelt players to crack double figures.

Roosevelt had its opportunities to get back in the game. After knocking down a pair of free throws, Cole made a 3-pointer on the Rough Riders’ next trip down the court to cut Marshall’s lead to 38-35 three minutes, 29 seconds into the second half. Marshall head coach Travis Carroll called a timeout to calm his squad and got a breakaway dunk by Hunter Peterson off a Roosevelt turnover soon after. A few minutes later, Peterson drew two charges within a span of 18 seconds to ignite his squad even further.

“That was very important,” Carroll said of Peterson’s stretch of strong play. “We hadn’t taken three charges all year in a game and tonight was the first time we’ve taken three charges in a game. That’s what you need to do to win a game like this. There was a lot of adversity tonight and our guys handled that adversity well, which helped us to not let Roosevelt go on big runs against us.”

Down the stretch, Marshall senior guard Austin Saugstad kept his composure bringing up the ball against the Roosevelt pressure and then drew foul after foul on opposing guards. He finished the game 9-for-14 from the foul line for 13 points to go with seven rebounds and a game-high five assists.

Derek Buysse added 14 points off the bench for Marshall, all of which came in the first half.

The Tigers will now cross state lines for their next game, as they will face Watertown (S.D.) on Tuesday. And they’ll be riding a wave of confidence on their way there after knocking off top-ranked Roosevelt.

“It’s always good to have a very good basketball team come into our gym and have an opportunity to compete with them,” Carroll said of Friday’s win. “The guys have shown the last couple of weeks that they can play well against some pretty high-caliber teams. Roosevelt was another high-caliber team. When you have success it gives you the confidence that you know you can do what you need to do in order to win the game.”