MARSHALL - With both teams having Southwest Conference title aspirations, Windom Area and host Marshall came into Thursday's game expecting a battle. But through the opening minutes of the first half, only one of the teams was putting up a fight.
The Eagles' experienced group of starters, who have all been starting together for two seasons, took control of the game early by dominating the boards, preventing the Tigers from getting good looks near the basket, and knocking down nearly every open shot. After a three-pointer by forward Travis Mattson with 5 minutes, 55 seconds left in the half, the Eagles had built a 29-14 lead over a disjointed Marshall squad.
Two possessions later, a three-point play by Marshall guard Mason Schnaible sparked a 13-2 run to get the Tigers back into the game heading into the locker room, but Marshall was never quite able to close the gap in a 66-61 Windom Area victory.
The Windom Area Eagles defeat the Marshall Tigers 66-61 in Southwest Conference action Jan. 6 in Mar
"To be honest, we did (come out flat) and that kind of surprised me," Marshall head coach Tom Critchley said. "We were focused in warm-ups and were saying and doing all the right things. I think when (Windom) got a couple of big shots right away, we didn't respond. It took us getting down 15 before we responded and you can't do that against a good basketball team."
The loss was Marshall's first conference defeat of the season and second loss in its last three games. The Tigers are now 6-3 overall and 3-1 in the conference. The Eagles improve to 8-1 overall and are also 4-1 in the conference, with their lone loss coming against Worthington.
Windom Area's starters were the only players to score for the Eagles, and only one other bench player even took a shot. With 17 points by 6-foot-5 forward Jake Holt, 16 points from Mattson, 15 points from 6-foot-3 forward Lee Holt and 14 points from senior guard Levi Gotto, the Eagles didn't exactly need much of a contribution from anyone else.
Photo by Matt Dahlseid
Marshall’s Caleb Johnson (3) has his shot blocked by Windom Area’s Jake Holt during the second half of Thursday night’s Southwest Conference game at Marshall High School. For more photos, go to cu.marshallindependent.com.
With his team having such a large first-half lead, Windom Area head coach Tony Taylor was hoping his players would have done a better job closing out the Tigers. Still, he was pleased that the Eagles were able to withstand Marshall's run and accomplish something he can't remember a Windom Area team doing.
"I don't know when the last time we won in Marshall was. It's been a long time," Taylor said. "Coming in here and winning in this environment, that was pretty special."
It was clear from the start of Thursday's game that the Eagles were hungry for a win. On the occasion when one of their shots didn't fall, either Jake or Lee Holt seemed to be under the basket grabbing an offensive board to give their team another chance to score. Lee Holt finished with a game-high 12 rebounds, including five offensive boards. Jake Holt added eight boards as the Eagles out-rebounded Marshall 37-29.
|Windom Area (66)|
|Levi Gotto 3 8-10 14, Jake Holt 7 3-3 17, Lee Holt 5 5-8 15, Spenser Kipfer 1 2-4 4, Travis Mattson 5 2-2 16 Totals 21 20-27 66. Three-pointers 4 (Mattson 4) Rebounds 37 (L. Holt 12, J. Holt 8) Assists 18 (Gotto 8, Mattson 4) Steals 6 (Gotto 3) Blocks 4 (J. Holt 2, L. Holt 2) Turnovers 19.|
|Lee Christianson 1 2-4 4, Collin Hoover 2 0-0 4, Caleb Johnson 7 6-9 22, Ben Sanders 3 0-0 7, Mason Schnaible 4 2-3 11, Shawn Tykwinski 1 0-0 3 Totals 23 10-17 61. Three-pointers 5 (Johnson 2) Rebounds 29 (Johnson 9, Hoover 6) Assists 20 (Christianson 5, Johnson 4, Sanders 4) Steals 8 Blocks 0 Turnovers 14.|
|Halftime Score: Windom Area 31, Marshall 27.|
Jake Holt picked up his second foul late in the second half, and with a big body out of the paint, Marshall went to work going to the basket to cut into the Eagles' lead and Windom Area struggled to crack Marshall's zone defense. The Tigers went into halftime down four, but the score could have been closer had Marshall managed to score on one of a pair of layups to end the half.
Windom Area built its lead back up to 10 points with 7:10 left in the game after a deep jumper by Spenser Kipfer. Marshall, however, kept fighting and got back into the game behind 14 second-half points by guard Caleb Johnson, who finished with a game-high 22.
Fouling to extend the game late, Marshall pulled to within three points when Shawn Tykwinski hit a deep three-pointer from the left wing with 31.3 seconds left. But Gotto hit four free throws in the remaining seconds to help preserve the victory.
While Marshall never gave up in the game, Critchley said there was no moral victory Thursday.
"We had some guys step up in the second half and make some clutch plays, which was good to see," he said. "But unfortunately, we've done this enough now where we're not going to be satisfied with getting it close after being down. That's something we'll have to learn and get better at."
Two other players joined Johnson in double figures scoring. Schnaible finished with 11 points, while Ben Sanders had 10. Johnson also led the team with nine rebounds.
The Tigers return to action Tuesday at Luverne, while the Eagles will take the court again Saturday when they host Mountain Lake/Butterfield-Odin. Marshall and Windom Area will meet up again Feb. 25 in Windom.