Nowhere to hide

MARSHALL – With members of the 1963 state championship team in attendance, the 2012-13 Marshall boys’ basketball team put on a defensive clinic in its 57-24 rout of the Windom Area Eagles on Friday. The win capped off a perfect 12-0 Southwest Conference season for the Tigers, who improved to 22-2 on the year.

By combining mid-court traps with relentless effort in their half court defense, the third-ranked (Class AAA) Tigers held the Eagles to 10 total field goals for the game while forcing 28 Windom turnovers and accumulating 17 steals as a team.

Marshall had previously ground out a 61-36 win over Windom on Jan. 3 and knew the Eagles wanted to bring the game to a crawl. As a remedy, the Tigers went to the trap using the mid-court line as an extra defender.

“You’ve got to use the mid-court line, the baseline and the sidelines as another defender,” Marshall head coach Travis Carroll said. “Windom wanted to slow the game down and shorten the number of possessions in the game, they did a good job of that and we wanted to try and create some tempo without giving away the easy opportunities. Our guys handled those situations well and it was good to see it because it is something that we may see in the tournament.

“They’ve gave a lot of energy tonight and I’m really proud of the guys tonight,” Carroll added. “We didn’t give up many easy shots. Our guys did a great job of playing hard and rotating.”

The Tigers had their own offensive woes to start the game, as the Eagles’ 2-3 zone kept Marshall out of rhythm with the basketball.

After briefly trailing 5-2, the Tigers used a 13-0 run over seven minutes of game-time to open up a 10-point lead with eight minutes, 12 seconds to play. Fueled by turnovers, Marshall went on an 8-0 run two minutes later to build a 23-7 lead with three minutes remaining until halftime.

Although it was Windom’s turnovers that allowed the Tigers to build their lead, Marshall committed 10 first-half turnovers of its own and entered the locker room with a 25-13 lead.

“Windom did a great job, they came out and executed well defensively in the first half,” Carroll said. “We did turn the ball over 10 times and that’s something that we need to try and improve on in the future. It’s just taking possessions away from us. In the second half we took care of the basketball better, which showed in how the game went after halftime. Give Windom credit, they had a gameplan and they executed it to start the game.”

At halftime the team and town honored members of Marshall’s lone state champion in boys’ basketball.

“We respect the tradition that the ’63 team helped put in place for our basketball program,” Carroll said. “We wanted to have a night where we carried on that respect. I thought that our guys did well tonight in doing that. We talk about the ’63 team a lot and everything they’ve accomplished because they help us understand that it’s good to dream big, we have some big goals this year.”

Perhaps inspired by the presence of their forbearers, the Tigers looked rejuvenated in the second half. Marshall outscored Windom 20-6 in the seven minutes immediately following halftime to blow the game wide open.

Also honored on Friday were the seven Tiger seniors, who combined for 42 of Marshall’s 57 total points. Derek Buysse led the way with 14 points and five rebounds, while Austin Saugstad had nine points and six assists. Seniors Aaron Mathiowetz and Hunter Peterson had four points and three steals each. Caleb Lenort finished with a loud three points, as his 3-pointer from the left corner with 30 seconds remaining sent the Marshall bench into a frenzy.

“It was a special night,” Carroll said. “These seniors have had a tremendous season up to this point and their leadership in practice and in games, we couldn’t have asked for a better night. All seven seniors contributed to the win out there tonight. They all played extremely hard. Caleb hit a big shot at the end of the game and it was a good way to end the night.”

Tanner Bukowski added eight points and two steals to the win. Riley Sharbono, a junior, chipped in with 11 points for the Tigers, including their first 3 early in the second half.

Just five Eagles scored in the game, led by Andy Pfeffer’s eight points.

Marshall scored 24 points off of the 28 Windom turnovers, while the Eagles managed just four points following a Tiger mishap. The Tigers also outscored Windom at the free throw line, converting on 14 of their 16 attempts. Windom (12-11 overall, 4-8 SWC) was 2-for-3 from the stripe.

The Tigers will look to extend their current winning streak to 11 games when they travel to the banks of the Red River this afternoon to face the Moorhead Spuds.