GIRLS BASKETBALL: Tigers lose first battle

MARSHALL – Sioux Falls Washington wasted no time in proving why they are the top-ranked girls team in the South Dakota on Friday night. The Warriors handed the Marshall Tigers their first loss of the season, winning 70-56.

The Tigers trailed 32-21 with 5:40 remaining in the first half before going on a 14-5 run to end the half and cut the score to 37-32.

That stretch was the only window in which Marshall controlled the action. MHS was able to focus on some positive aspects from that stretch.

“When they did score, we let them go on long runs and it made it harder to fight back,” Tigers senior Kenzie Beekman said. “When they would score, it would take all our momentum away.”

SFW took the momentum right back in the second half, however as Marshall committed a foul on three-point shooter after coming within three of the Warriors. SFW made two of the three and stretched the lead back out to five.

Marshall coach Dan Westby felt this was a key point in the game.

“That was a little bit of a backbreaker for us at that point,” Westby said. “We felt pretty good about coming out and getting that basket and the kid ended up shooting an air ball. This team we played tonight was a good team; no shame in losing to this team.”

Westby also felt that he could’ve done a better job of getting his team out of the press at times. He felt that they gave up too many easy looks during a second half run that helped put the game away for SFW.

SFW’s depth gave Marshall fits throughout the contest as they were able to switch from an inside-heavy game to be able to stretch the defense with the three almost at will.

Every time the Tigers (12-1) would start to gain a little momentum, the Warriors responded with a timely three.

“We called some different players numbers tonight and they were able to knock those shots down,” Sioux Falls Washington coach Nate Malchow said. “That’s their role. We got contributions from everybody.”

Junior Sarah Buysee led the Tigers with 16 points to go with 13 from junior Morgan Saugstad and 12 from Beekman. Beekman’s 12 points all came in the first half as she was held scoreless in the second.

Kelsey Knecht was the leading scorer for the Warriors (10-0) as she dropped in 17 to go with 14 from Jade Visker, 11 from Hannah Nieman and 10 from Sydney Koel.

Beekman finished as the leading rebounder with nine to go with seven from Buysee and five each from Saugstad and Callie Graff. Buysee also had seven steals on the night while Bennett dished out six assists.

Even though the scoreboard would show the Warriors controlled the action, Malchow was quick to praise the Tigers for their effort.

“We feel very fortunate to come out with a win,” Malchow said. “Marshall is a great program that is very well coached and has a lot of talent. They will do great things this year.”

Marshall will try and rebound from the loss as they will host Windom Area on Monday.