GIRLS BASKETBALL: Tigers tame Wildcats

MINNEAPOLIS – Chisago Lakes Area has Iowa State recruit Bryanna Fernstrom on its team, but Marshall didn’t blink an eye as it rolled to a 68-44 victory over the Wildcats on Wednesday afternoon at Mariucci Area.

With the win, the third-seeded Tigers advanced to the semifinals of the Class 3A Girls Basketball State Tournament, where MHS will play No. 2 seed Fergus Falls at 2 p.m today at Williams Arena.

The Tigers defense held Fernstrom to six points in the first half before she scored 18 in the second. Of her 24 points, 10 of them came from the free-throw line.

Morgan Saugstad spent most of the time in the post guarding Fernstrom and credited work in practice to help limit her.

“She’s a good player, but we did a lot of things in practice to get ready,” Saugstad said. “We worked really hard to shut her down. She’s really left-hand oriented. So, we wanted to focus on shutting that down.”

This week in practice, Marshall assistant coach Brian Engles, the tallest person on the girls basketball coaching staff, was used to help simulate Fernstrom’s size.

The Tigers didn’t take long to put this one out of reach.

Chisago Lakes Area was within six points with 5:20 left in the first half before Marshall went on a 15-1 run, which gave the Tigers a 41-21 cushion at the break.

MHS senior Hannah Bennett helped get the Tigers started, scoring eight of the first 12 Marshall points.

She credited her teammates with helping her get the momentum going early.

“We rely on everybody to get us going, especially on defense. We let our defense fuel our offense,” Bennett said.

Benett finished with a Marshall-high 13 points to go with 11 more from Kenzie Beekman and 10 from Marah Mulso, who shot 4 of 6 from the field and made 2 of 4 attempts from 3-point range. The trio had plenty of help in a balanced scoring effort as Saugstad and Sarah Buysse finished with nine and eight points, respectively.

Beekman finished as the leading rebounder for the Tigers with six to go with five more boards from Buysse and four each from Morgan Saugstad, Lexi Saugstad and Bennett.

CLA head coach Craig Walker knew Marshall was going to be a tough test, but still thought his team would perform a little better than it did in some areas.

“Marshall is a great team,” Walker said. “They play great up-tempo basketball and that’s something that we are obviously struggling with right now. I think they will give Fergus Falls a run for its money just because of that style. Also, they hit the boards really well. I expected that a little bit, but I thought we would be able to handle that a little bit better. They really got after the boards and also found their shooters and they made shots.”

With the win, Marshall improved its overall record to 29-1 while CLA finished its season 22-7.

Marshall coach Dan Westby credited his team’s defensive effort with being able to come away with the win.

“We don’t have a lot of size and we thought the best way to neutralize that was to get after them in the full court and I think our kids did that,” Westby said. “We made things really difficult for them. We’re really proud of our kids for coming out with this win today.”

Looking ahead to Fergus Falls

Marshall, which will face No. 2 seed Fergus Falls in the semifinals at 2 p.m. today, has an even tougher task.

The Otters, who also have one loss this season and own a state-best 45-game home winning streak over the past three seasons, are making their third straight tournament appearance. Fergus Falls is 88-4 since the start of the 2011-12 season.

The Tigers will have to contend with Brianna Rasmussen, who comes in averaging 11 points and nine assists per game. Rasmussen, who has made a living out of finding scoring opportunities for her teammates, has 746 assists, which ranks fourth all-time on the state list.

Leading scorer Bailey Strand averages 21 points per game and has scored more than 2,000 points in her prep career. Rasmussen and Anna Monke are both members of the Otters’ 1,000-point club.

Strand will be playing at North Dakota State next season, while Monke will be suiting up for the University of Minnesota-Duluth and Rasmussen will be playing volleyball at NDSU.

CLASS 3A?BASKETBALL STATE?TOURNAMENT

Quarterfinals

Wednesday

At Mariucci Arena

MARSHALL 68, CHISAGO LAKES?AREA 44

CHISAGO LAKE AREA (22-7 OVERALL):?Carly Peterson 0-0 0-0 0, Sally Nelson 0-0 0-0 0, Carmen Backes 2-6 2-2 8, Julia Clarin 0-0 0-0 0, Laura Jennissen 0-1 0-0 0, Danielle Berg 1-2 0-0 2, Anna Peters 1-1 0-0 2, Sarah Greene 1-9 1-3 3, Brianna Hillman 0-0 0-0 0, Marissa Kari 1-6 1-2 3, Jillian Bielicki 0-0 0-0 0, Alli Carlson 0-1 0-0 0, Bryanna Fernstrom 7-18 10-14 24, Kailey McKnight 0-0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 13-44 (30%) 16-23 (70%) 44.

MARSHALL (29-1 OVERALL): Sarah Buysse 1-9 6-8 8, Morgan Saugstad 4-9 0-0 9, Haley Bennett 0-0 0-0 0, Marah Mulso 4-6 2-4 10, Kenzie Beekman 5-12 0-0 11, Meghann Naughton 1-1 0-0 2, Hannah Bennett 5-12 1-1 13, Rose Anderson 0-0 0-0 0, Callie Graff 0-0 3-4 3, Gabby Hess 0-2 3-4 3, Lexi Saugstad 2-4 2-4 6, Abby Louwagie 0-0 1-2 1, Emily Buysse 0-0 0-0 0, Cami Hoover 0-0 0-0 0, Jackie Petrich 0-0 2-4 2. TOTALS: 22-55 (40%) 20-33 (61%) 68.

HALFTIME: Marshall 41, Chisago Lakes Area 21. 3-POINT FIELD GOALS: Chisago Lakes Area 2-11 (Backes 2-4, Berg 0-1, Fernstrom 0-2, Kari 0-4); Marshall 4-13 (Han. Bennett 2-4, M. Saugstad 1-3, Beekman 1-3, L. Saugstad 0-1, S. Buysse 0-2). REBOUNDS: Chisago Lakes Area 37 (Fernstrom 18, Greene 6); Marshall 37 (Beekman 6). TOTAL FOULS (FOULED OUT): Chisago Lakes Area 27 (Backes, Greene, Nelson); Marshall 20 (). TECHNICAL FOULS: None. ASSISTS: Chisago Lakes Area 7 (Backes, 2, Kari 2); Marshall 15 (Beekman 4, Han. Bennett 3, S. Buysse 2, M. Saugstad). STEALS: Chisago Lakes Area 7 (Berg 3, Greene 3); Marshall 13 (Beekman 5, Han. Bennett 3, L. Saugsrad 3). BLOCKED SHOTS: Chisago Lakes Area 8 (Fernstrom 4, Greene 2, Backes, McKnight); Marshall 1 (Graff). TURNOVERS: Chisago Lakes Area 25; Marshall 11.