GIRLS BASKETBALL: Intense Marshall tops Worthington

MARSHALL – Worthington could not match the intensity Marshall put forth at the start of a Southwest Conference game Saturday.

The Class 3A No. 4-ranked Tigers (18-3 overall, 10-0 SWC) bulldozed the Trojans (16-2, 8-2) while taking a 27-4 lead during the first 6 minutes, 15 seconds and, despite Worthington’s second-half rally, Marshall posted a 78-63 win.

“Our kids were extremely focused during those first few minutes,” MHS head coach Dan Westby said. “We moved the ball well, we attacked the basket and we were able to get some points out of our pressure.”

Focused might be an understatement.

During the first 9 minutes of the game, Marshall featured an unstoppable attack. The Tigers made all 13 of their field goal attempts and converted four free throws en route to a 34-11 advantage.

Before the Trojans knew what hit them, MHS had scored the game’s first 15 points. After a Sarah Buysse free throw, Callie Graff had a layup in transition, Kenzie Beekman threw in a 3-pointer before scoring the next six points on layups as Marshall went ahead 12-0. Buysse capped the run with a layup that she converted into a three-point play.

“Our coaches prepared us very well for what Worthington was going to do,” Buysse said. “We knew they were going to come out fired up because we beat them last time in Worthington and we had to either match or have more intensity than they did.”

MHS secured a 75-55 Southwest Conference victory at Worthington on Dec. 12, 2013.

Only a pair of free throws from Worthington’s Brooke Henning temporarily slowed down the Tigers.

Leading 17-2 on a Hannah Bennett layup, MHS and its defense allowed the Trojans’ first field goal – a layup from Apiew Alwal after 3:48 had expired.

But Marshall didn’t let up.

The Tigers went on another scoring spree that saw them drain the next 10 points. After Beekman hit two free throws, Marah Mulso knocked down back-to-back jumpers from the baseline, Lexi Saugstad threw in a 3-pointer and Bennett added a free throw for a 27-4 MHS lead with 11:45 left in the first half.

Marshall’s advantage grew to 34-11 as Beekman, who scored a game high 22 points with 10 rebounds, took a pass from Bennett and raced ahead of pack for a layup.

“We did a really good job of passing the ball and pushing it up the court,” Beekman said. “When Worthington had the ball, I thought we did a good job of beating them down the court, where we could set up our defense.”

After settling down with 8:46 left before the break, Worthington closed the first half with a run of its own. The Trojans, sparked by Alwal, Henning and Ana Boever, outscored the Tigers 23-15 during that span to trim their halftime deficit to 49-34.

After intermission, Worthington continued its rally.

The Trojans, who trailed by just seven points with 15:59 remaining, used an 8-0 run to cut further into the Tigers lead. A layup by Paige Gravenhof, a 3-pointer from Boever and a putback by Henning had Worthington down 49-42.

During the first 5:16 of the second half, Marshall struggled to score from the field, managing just two field goals from Morgan Saugstad, one of which she turned into a three-point play. The Tigers maintained control by getting to the free-throw line, where MHS was an additional 6 of 6 during that span to go ahead 60-48.

“Down the stretch, we were making some free throws and I thought that happened because we were attacking the basket a little more,” Westby said. “We had five or six straight possessions where we settled for just one pass and a shot. That’s not how we try to play and it was disappointing to see our big lead get away.”

Graff (eight points) added a pair of layups with 11:01 left as the Tigers extended their cushion to 64-50 and the Trojans trailed by double digits the rest of the way.

Mulso ended up with 14 points for Marshall, which received 10 points from Buysse and picked up 10 rebounds, nine points, eight assists and five steals from Bennett. Lexi Saugstad pulled down seven rebounds.

Henning paced Worthington with 18 points and 10 rebounds, while Boever contributed 15 points, seven rebounds and five steals and Gravenhof finished with 14 rebounds, 12 points, five assists and five steals.

Marshall is back in action with a Southwest Conference game at Pipestone Area at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.

MARSHALL 78, WORTHINGTON 63

WORTHINGTON (16-2 OVERALL, 8-2 SOUTHWEST): Ana Boever 6 2-4 15, Abbie Landgaard 0 2-5 2, Brooke Henning 6 5-11 18, Emma Gerber 1 2-2 4, Rebecca Linder 1 1-2 3, Paige Gravenhof 3 6-7 12, Achan Alwal 1 0-0 2, Apiew Alwal 3 1-2 7. TOTALS: 21 19-33 (58%) 63.

MARSHALL (18-1 OVERALL, 10-0 SOUTHWEST): Sarah Buysse 2 6-7 10, Morgan Saugstad 2 1-1 5, Haley Bennett 0 0-0 0, Marah Mulso 6 2-2 14, Kenzie Beekman 8 4-6 22, Hannah Bennett 2 5-7 9, Callie Graff 4 0-0 8, Gabby Hess 2 0-0 4, Lexi Saugstad 1 1-2 4, Emily Buysse 0 0-1 0, Jackie Petrich 1 0-0 2. TOTALS: 28 19-28 (68%) 78.

HALFTIME: Marshall 49, Worthington 34. 3-POINT FIELD GOALS: Worthington 2 (Boever 1, Henning 1); Marshall 3 (Beekman 2, L. Saugstad 1). REBOUNDS: Worthington 38 (Gravenhof 14, Henning 10, Boever 7); Marshall 43 (Beekman 10, Han. Bennett 10, L. Saugstad 8). TOTAL FOULS (FOULED OUT): Worthington 23 (none); Marshall 25 (none). TECHNICAL FOULS: None. ASSISTS: Worthington 12 (Gravenhof 5, Landgaard 4); Marshall 15 (Han. Bennett 8). STEALS: Worthington 22 (Boever 5, Landgaard 5, Gravenhof 5); Marshall 18 (Han. Bennett 5, Beekman 4, S. Buysse 3). BLOCKED SHOTS: Worthington 8 (Henning 2, Ac. Alwal 2, Ap. Alwal 2, Landgaard 1, Linder 1); Marshall 1 (Mulso 1). TURNOVERS: Worthington 21; Marshall 29.