Beekman’s huge game carries Tiger girls past Willmar

An outstanding game for Kenzie Beekman translated into an outstanding evening for the Marshall girls’ basketball team on Thursday. The Marshall junior posted a triple-double while leading the Tigers to a 71-48 mauling of the Willmar Cardinals in Willmar.

Beekman led the Tigers in nearly every statistical category. Along with her six assists and three blocks, Beekman also had 32 points, 15 rebounds and 11 steals.

With four players standing 6-feet tall, the Cardinals had the height to keep Beekman in check, but not the resolve.

“She did a great job of posting up down low,” Marshall coach Dan Westby said of Beekman. “She also did a great job of spreading the court and she ended up getting a few layups that way. Typically she gets baskets out of our press and she had a few of those tonight as well.”

Marshall’s press also helped generate 24 team steals, as the Tigers held Willmar to just 20 points after halftime. It wasn’t an all out press, but calculated moments intended to keep the Cardinals guessing.

“Our pressure gave them some trouble,” Westby said. “We kind of picked and chose the times we pressured them and when we did it slowed them down, a lot of the time it forced turnovers or we got steals.”

Sarah Buysse also broke double figures scoring for the Tigers, who led 44-28 at halftime, with 12 points.

If not for the Tiger press, Willmar may have been closer than the 16-point margin at halftime. According to Westby, the Cardinals were extremely effective shooting the ball in the opening 18 minutes.

“We played hard, came out and played hard early,” Westby said. “Willmar really shot the ball well, especially in the first half. But to our kids credit, they overcame that and ended up getting a big win.”

Heather Horning connected on four 3-pointers while on her way to 22 points to pace the Cardinals.

The Tigers, ranked sixth in Class AAA, picked up their ninth win in a row by defeating the Cardinals and their 22nd win of the season. Marshall (22-3 overall) has just one game remaining before section playoffs begin, a road game with Sioux Falls (S.D.) Roosevelt on Thursday.

“Roosevelt’s a good team,” Westby said. “They’ve got a lot of players with a lot of experience so that will be a tough ball game.”

Marshall is 2-2 versus teams from South Dakota so far this season and 1-2 against competition from Sioux Falls.