MARSHALL - Open three-pointers, shots in the lane, baseline jumpers, even layups, the Marshall boys basketball team couldn't get any of them to fall during the first seven minutes of Tuesday's Southwest Conference game against Luverne.
Coming off a dreadful 24.1 percent shooting night in a loss to Sioux Falls Lincoln (S.D.) on Saturday, the Tigers' cold streak carried over to Tuesday as they trailed the Cardinals 9-0 after seven minutes of play.
Marshall nearly put a glorious stop to its shooting woes by catching fire and erasing an 11-point deficit in a frantic final 2 minutes and 36 seconds of regulation. But the Tigers sunk back into their funk in the extra frame, scoring just three points as the the Cardinals pulled out a 75-68 win at Marshall High School.
Photo by Matt Dahlseid
Marshall guard Shawn Tykwinski, middle, goes up for a shot between Luverne’s Alex Weis, left, and Brett Heronimus during the first half of Tuesday night’s Southwest Conference game at Marshall High School.
With a team full of players capable of knocking down shots from all over the court, Marshall head coach Tom Critchley said the Tigers have to get over a mental block to break out of their slump.
"We're not playing with a lot of confidence. We're playing on our heels," said Critchley, whose team drops to 6-6 overall and 3-2 in SWC play. "You saw how we're supposed to play when we quit thinking. When we made that run, we found the open guy, we had the penetration, we got into the gaps and we were the aggressor instead of on our heels. That's what we have to do."
Following the game, Luverne head coach Tom Rops estimated that Tuesday marked the Cardinals' first win over Marshall since 1998 or 1999. Normally, he said the Cardinals struggle against the Tigers' full-court press and find themselves trying to claw back from a big deficit. That was different Tuesday, as the Cardinals (7-4 overall, 3-2 SWC) attacked Marshall's aggressive press and had stretches where they got quick buckets or earned trips to the foul line, where there was a huge disparity between the two teams. Marshall shot 7 of 9 from the free-throw line, while Luverne was 32 of 50.
Matt Arends 1 5-7 7, Devin Heitkamp 3 2-2 10, Brett Heronimus 5 11-19 24, Matt Overgaard 0 5-6 5, Josh Slieter 5 4-8 14, Alex Weis 5 5-8 15. Totals 19 32-50 75. Three-pointers 5 (Heronimus 3) Rebounds 50 (Heronimus 19) Assists 10 (Slieter 4) Steals 7 Blocks 0 Turnovers 20 Total Fouls 15.
Tanner Bukowski 6 5-6 20, Aaron Mathiowetz 3 0-0 8, Hunter Peterson 6 0-1 17, Austin Saugstad 3 1-1 7, Mason Schnaible 3 1-1 7, Riley Sharbono 1 0-0 3, Shawn Tykwinski 2 0-0 6. Totals 24 7-9 68. Three-pointers 13 (Peterson 5, Bukowski 3) Rebounds 43 (Mathiowetz 10, Saugstad 7) Assists 19 (Peterson 6, Saugstad 5) Steals 10 (Peterson 4, Saugstad 2) Blocks 1 Turnovers 15 Total Fouls 31.
Halftime Score: Luverne 30, Marshall 23.
"Against Marshall, it's always about your endurance," Rops said. "You've got to be ready for 36 minutes, and typically we can handle the first 10, but in that second half with less than 10 minutes to go they usually wear us down.
"Obviously, we tried to get to the free throw line as much as we can. We probably didn't shoot the percentage that we wanted, but we shot a bunch."
Junior guard Brett Heronimus led all scorers with 24 points, including 11-for-19 shooting from the foul line. He also grabbed 19 of his team's 50 rebounds. Marshall had 43 rebounds as a team.
For the Tigers, it was juniors Tanner Bukowski and Hunter Peterson who managed to find their stroke while their teammates were struggling. Bukowski scored 17 of his team-high 20 points in the second half, where he knocked down three three-pointers. Peterson hit five three-pointers in the second half on his way to 17 points.
Following the game, Bukowski provided an explanation for why his team has been struggling so much from the field in recent games.
"We're not catching the ball shot-ready," he said. "Coach has been telling us to catch the ball with our knees bent so we're ready to shoot. It's kind of like we're catching it and then bending to shoot the ball instead of being ready and knowing what we're going to do with the ball."
The Tigers figured out what to do with the ball at just the right time. Behind by as many as 16 in the second half, Marshall was seemingly out of the game when they found themselves down 11 with 2:49 left in the second half after a layup by Luverne center Alex Weis (15 points).
But Peterson came up with a couple steals and drilled a pair of threes in the final minutes, Shawn Tykwinski hit a three of his own and junior guard Austin Saugstad came up with a pair of big plays to send the game to overtime.
Down three with 16.5 seconds left, Saugstad drove to the rim and made a layup while getting fouled. He hit the free throw to tie the game at 65, and then drew a charge on Heronimus on Luverne's next possession to help force the extra four minutes of play.
Bukowski said he and his teammates never thought they were finished.
"We fight. We always play to the end and we can be streaky," said Bukowski, whose team finished shooting 30 percent from the field. "When we're hot, playing together and getting each other the ball in good spots, we can score points in a hurry."
The points didn't come so quickly for Marshall in overtime, as a three-pointer by Tykwinski was the team's only basket.
For the Cardinals, overcoming the Tigers' rally and holding on for the win against a team that had dominated them in the past was a huge accomplishment, especially considering a recent blow Luverne had suffered two games ago.
"Psychologically, we just lost Brandon Klein, our leading scorer, to a broken collarbone against Redwood, so we had been really down in the dumps with losing our senior leader," Rops said. "This obviously proves that when we're mentally in it and have all five guys focusing in, we're still a solid basketball team."