Third (over)time's no charm

MARSHALL – The Marshall Tigers girls basketball team celebrated its Class AAA second-place state tournament finish with parents, friends and fans Sunday at the Marshall High School performing arts center.

The ceremony, emceed by MHS Athletic/Activities Director Bruce Remme, honored the players and coaching staff by allowing them to express emotions and share stories from experiencing high school basketball on the state’s highest stage. Park Center defeated Marshall, 73-71, in three overtimes Saturday at Williams Arena in Minneapolis.

The list of the Tigers’ accomplishments during the 2013-14 season was quite extensive.

“The Tigers were undefeated Southwest Conference champions in the final year of the conference during a 30-win season, which is unattainable by even some of the most successful teams,” Remme told the gathering of about 100 people. “The Tigers had winning streaks of 12 and 18 games, went undefeated against section opponents and won the Class 3A Section 2 championship.”

Junior Morgan Saugstad described the setting during the Tigers’ bus ride back to Marshall late Saturday night.

“At first, it was really quiet because we were still taking everything in,” Saugstad said. “Then we realized that we needed to be happy and proud of what we accomplished this season. After a while, we returned to our personalities and, despite the outcome of the game, we were happy with our effort.”

Seniors Hannah Bennett and Kenzie Beekman were thankful to a long list of supporters of the team throughout its 30-2 campaign in 2013-14. They reminisced about some of the comical and lighthearted moments the Tigers shared behind the scenes.

“After the game against Fergus Falls (on Thursday night), we were back in our hotel room and we decided we wanted to get something out of the vending machine,” Bennett said. “So, we walked down there with some Glow Sticks in our hands. Morgan accidentally broke her Glow Stick in half and it spilled all over one of the hotel employees. We kind of froze and didn’t know what to do. So, we ran back to our room.”

Head coach Dan Westby expressed his appreciation for the work ethic and dedication of the players. He also paid tribute to assistant coaches Stephanie Bot, Brian Engels and Chris Shaffer.

“On the bus ride home, we were looking through the state tournament program and we noticed that no other Class 3A state championship game has ever lasted three overtimes,” Westby said.

Roger Buysse, father of two Tigers – guard Sarah and forward Emily – said the players made memories and friendships that will last a lifetime.

“Marshall played three really good games at the state tournament, but we came out on the short end of it,” Buysse said. “In a way, it’s kind of heartbreaking because those girls put in all that time and effort. And to play as tough of a schedule as we had, we were definitely prepared for it. I’m very proud of the whole team.”