MARSHALL - Amidst unfamiliar surroundings Friday night, the Marshall girls' basketball team produced a familiar result.
Rather than the traditional orange and black garbed fans filling the seats inside Marshall High School, the patrons were instead draped in pink. The Tigers had dedicated the night, dubbed "Ballin' for Beret," in support of 2006 MHS graduate and former Tiger basketball player Beret Rysdahl, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in September.
The Tigers produced an inspired effort in their 62-35 dismantling of Southwest Conference rival Luverne, something that head coach Dan Westby had been hoping for considering the circumstances.
Photo by Travis Andries
Marshall’s Kelsey Saugstad (13)?releases a 3-point shot during the first half of Friday night’s Southwest Conference game against Luverne at Marshall High School
"One of the things that we talked to our kids about was the fact that a lot of people put a lot of time and energy into this night, the job our kids had was to come out and play hard," he said.
Marshall's energy level was evident from the outset of the contest, especially on the defensive end. The Tigers (7-0 overall, 4-0 SWC) had three extended runs in the first half allowing Marshall to take a 41-15 lead into the locker room.
A 10-0 run after Luverne tied the score at 2-2, gave the Tigers a 12-2 lead four minutes into the game. The Tigers followed up with a 7-0 run, featuring three baskets by Sarah Andersen in 25 seconds.
Tayla Peterson 1 0-0 2, Kaitlin Wohnoutka 3 0-0 9, McKayla Schilling 4 1-3 9, Alex Stanley 0 2-2 2, Lexi Rust 2 0-2 4, Allison Dohlmann 1 1-3 3, Morgan Haugen 2 0-0 6. Totals 13 4-10 35. 3-pointers 5 (Wohnoutka 3).
Sarah Buysse 1 1-2 3, Morgan Saugstad 2 2-2 6, Kelsey Saugstad 3 0-0 8, Kenzie Beekman 6 1-2 13, Hannah Bennett 2 5-6 9, Jenna Christianson 0 2-2 2, Callie Graff 3 1-2 7, Sarah Andersen 4 0-0 8, Jackie Petrich 2 2-2 6. Totals 23 14-18 62. 3-pointers 2 (K. Saugstad 2) Rebounds 36 (Beekman 14) Assists 6 Steals 13 (K. Saugstad 4).
Halftime Score: Marshall 41, Luverne 15
Marshall then went into shut-down mode, holding the Cardinals scoreless for over eight minutes of game time during an 18-0 run. Most of the scoring during that run came from Marshall forward Kenzie Beekman, who was tenacious on the offensive glass and was the only player to crack 10 points with her game-high 13. She also led the Tigers with 14 rebounds to complete her double-double.
"Kenzie did a nice job rebounding and with put-backs and was able to get us some baskets there inside, which we sorely need," Westby said.
The Cardinals added a couple baskets to close out the first half, which, despite the near 30-point lead, was not a perfect 18 minutes of basketball for the Tigers.
"I think the biggest issue in the first half was we were too spastic with the ball at times, we didn't take care of the ball," Westby said. "We got a little bit careless. (Luverne) started out in a zone (defense) then went to a man, and we adjusted to that fairly well but, like I said, we just didn't slow down and see what was there. We rushed things a little bit."
Neither team shot well to start the second half, though the Tigers did have a 6-0 run in the opening 6 minutes, 54 seconds. Marshall would extend its lead to 52-18 halfway through the half, then turned the game over to its bench.
"It was good to get everybody in and everybody got some quality minutes," Westby said. "We need to look to extend our bench a little bit and get some kids in. I thought Jackie Petrich came in and played hard for us tonight."
Petrich was one of seven Tigers to score at least six points for Marshall, who saw every available player check in while keeping the lead over Luverne (5-3, 2-1) by at least 20 points.
The ability to unload the bench on Friday should aid the Tigers in their next contest, as they travel to Mankato today for an important section showdown with the Mankato East Cougars.
"East, they present some match-up problems for us," Westby said. "They're a big team and they've got a very skilled point guard. It's a tough match-up for us. Going to their place will be difficult.
"We just need to continue defending like we have been defending. Again tonight we held (our opponent) in the 30s. We always feel that if we are able to keep the score low it gives us an advantage."