Tiger boys win 7th straight game vs. Worthington

MARSHALL – Finding a spark through its full-court press early in the second half, the Marshall boys’ basketball team turned a one-point halftime lead into a 58-48 win over Worthington Friday night at Marshall High School.

The Tigers, who are ranked third in Class AAA, were knocked slightly off their game in the first half by a Worthington squad that had an upset on its mind. But the Tigers started the second half on an 11-2 run with the help of turnovers forced by their press to create some breathing room and they led by six or more points the rest of the game.

The victory was the seventh straight for Marshall (21-2 overall) over its rival and the Tigers’ 10th consecutive win overall. It’s the second time the Tigers have put together a double-digit win streak this season, and the victory means Marshall is just one win away from securing its first perfect conference season since the 2005-06 season.

“It’s a special team,” said guard Hunter Peterson, who scored 15 points and had three steals Friday night. “We have a lot of guys who have been playing together and us seniors have been playing together since fourth grade. It’s just fun playing with the same people. We have a lot of chemistry going together.”

The Tigers had cruised past Worthington 76-45 when the two teams met on Dec. 14. The rematch was much more competitive, in large part because the Trojans (14-7 overall, 7-5 SWC) had guard Jon Vorwald back on the court. Vorwald missed the previous meeting due to a broken jaw, and in his final chance to take on the Tigers the senior drilled four 3-pointers to finish with 12 points.

Vorwald and 6-foot-6 center Morgan Traylor worked to keep things close with Marshall in the first half. The Trojans held a 7-5 lead before Marshall’s Tanner Bukowski scored on a drive to the basket and Peterson made back-to-back fastbreak baskets, the first being a breakaway dunk, to give the Tigers a surge of momentum.

Worthington settled down by going to its big man, and Traylor finished with 10 points in the half to help the Trojans cut into Marshall’s lead. A reverse layup by Worthington forward Spencer Grafing allowed the Trojans to pull within a point at 23-22 heading into the locker room.

Used to putting conference foes away early, the Tigers were intent on coming out hot in the second half.

“We had a little fire coming out after halftime,” Peterson said. “We didn’t like how we played the first half.”

Marcus Potter scored on an up-and-under layup in the lane to give Worthington a lead to start the second half, but Marshall responded with an 11-2 run fueled by its press. Peterson started the run with a baseline drive that led to a layup, Riley Sharbono followed with a layup of his own, then the Tigers got a steal with their press and Sharbono was fouled on a layup attempt. He drained both free throws, two of his 11 points, and the Tigers were off and running.

Marshall’s Derek Buysse deflected a pass in the backcourt to force another turnover and it led to him getting a layup to push the Tiger lead to seven. He had 11 points on the night. Sharbono added a 3-point play after that to give the Tigers’ their first double-digit lead of the game.

Vorwald hit a couple of 3s later in the half to keep his team within striking distance, but Worthington was never able to get closer than six points the rest of the game.

“He has a big impact on both ends of the floor because he’s one of their better scorers and he is their best defensive player,” Marshall head coach Travis Carroll said of Vorwald. “He has a positive impact on both ends for them and he was someone who was definitely missed by them during the beginning of the year.”

Tanner Bukowski scored 11 points and had three assists for the Tigers in the win. And guard Austin Saugstad didn’t do much scoring with just two points, but he pulled down nine of his team’s rebounds to help Marshall to a 41-25 edge on the boards.

Traylor led all scorers with 18 points in the game and also tallied 10 rebounds.

Marshall has a non-conference game Tuesday in New Ulm, then will wrap up its Southwest Conference schedule next Friday with a home game against Windom Area.