MARSHALL - A section win and a major milestone.
The eighth-ranked Marshall girls' basketball team got both of them against New Ulm on Tuesday night.
The Tigers' defense was extra stingy against the Eagles (0-10 overall), allowing only 10 points in the first half.
Marshall guard Kelsey Saugstad puts up a shot which resulted in her 1,000th career point in Tuesday night’s game against New Ulm at Marshall High School. Saugstad scored 21 points in the game, all of which came in the first half of the Tigers’ blowout victory.
But the biggest celebration on the night came from what appeared to be a routine layup.
Marshall senior Kelsey Saugstad drove from the left and put up a contested basket with 3 minutes, 42 seconds left in the half for her 21st point of the game.
It just happened to mean she had reached the 1,000-point milestone for her career.
The record was one that took everyone by surprise.
"We really didn't know until this afternoon. We sat down, looked at our stats, started talking about it and came to the realization that she was 21 points away," said Marshall head coach Dan Westby. "We were happy she could get this here at home versus going down to Pipestone and getting it on Friday."
The Tigers (11-2 overall) started out hot, scoring 10 points before the Eagles got on the board over three minutes into the game. New Ulm wouldn't find the bottom of the net for another 7 minutes, 13 seconds, at which time Marshall had a commanding 31-4 lead.
"We wanted to come out and work hard, especially on defense, execute what we've been working on in practice," Kelsey Saugstad said. "We knew they had a couple of people that had been doing most of their scoring, so we were more focused on stopping them, then helping on the other ones. I think we did a pretty good job of that."
The Tiger attack continued to work as Marshall added to the lead. When Kelsey Saugstad scored her the final points to reach 1,000, she was already moving on to defense when the game was stopped.
"I had no idea. Morgan (Saugstad) called out a play," Kelsey Saugstad said. "I really didn't think anything of it, just to do the play."
Westby presented Kelsey Saugstad with the game ball in a quick ceremony.
"We tried to set some things up for her in the first half so she could get some good looks," Westby said. "Fortunately, she finished some shots and got it done in the first half."
Kelsey Saugstad was excited about the achievement, but was quick to point out she could not have done it on her own.
"It's fun, but you can't really do it without a team," Kelsey Saugstad said. "You can't be 1-on-5, so it's the other people on my team that set screens, make passes and the cuts that helped me get that."
With the milestone reached, the Tigers went right back to work, looking to extend their 47-8 lead.
"It was our pressure and doing well on defense," Morgan Saugstad said. "We worked a lot on defense this week in practice."
Going into the half, the Tigers found themselves with a 52-10 lead.
"When we go into the locker room we say 'Keep pushing,'" Kelsey Saugstad said. "Just because we're up, we can't slow down."
But in the second half New Ulm went on a run, scoring 13 points in the first 5:23.
"We were disappointed in the fact that we thought we relaxed too much to start the second half," Westby said. "That's something we talked about at halftime, we still had to play hard defensively, and regardless of what defense we were in or what combination of kids we had out there, we had to continue to play hard and we certainly didn't do that to start the second half."
Something clicked for the Tigers after the Eagles scored the majority of their points, and Marshall locked down on New Ulm, not allowing the Eagles a single point in the final 12:37 of the game.
"We had a group of kids out there who had a possession where New Ulm wasn't able to get a shot for two or three minutes," Westby said. "That was a good defensive possession by our kids."
Marshall continued to hold defensively while adding points to their lead until they finished with a 67-23 section win.
Things don't et any easier for the Tigers as they head into a stretch with a trip to Pipestone on Friday, then play host to the fifth-ranked team in Class A (Minneota) on Tuesday, travel to face the top-ranked South Dakota Class AA team Sioux Falls Washington on Friday before finally returning home to play host to Hill-Murray on Saturday.
"That's a tough stretch, but we need those kinds of games," Westby said. "I thought the start of the second half was a prime example. We just don't have the focus we always should have in those kinds of games. Those games coming up will be good for us."
New Ulm (23)
Hunter Ahlness 1 0-2 3, Briana Sieve 1 0-0 2, Molly Shaul 0 3-4 3, Ellie Schneider 2 1-2 5, Taylor Bolduan 1 0-0 3, Kelsey Anderson 2 0-0 5, Elizabeth Rummel 1 0-0 2. Totals 8 4-8 233. 3-pointers 3 (Ahlness, Anderson, Bolduan).
Sarah Buysse 1 1-2 3, Morgan Saugstad 5 2-2 14, Kelsey Saugstad 8 3-5 21, Kenzie Beekman 3 1-2 7, Steph Baker 0 1-2 1, Hannah Bennett 5 0-1 10, Callie Graff 0 1-2 1, Lexi Saugstad 1 0-0 2, Sarah Andersen 2 0-0 4, Marah Mulso 0 1-2 1, Jackie Petrich 1 1-2 3. Totals 26 11-20 67. 3-Pointers 4 (M. Saugstad 2, K. Saugstad 2) Rebounds 29 (K. Saugstad 6, Andersen 6) Assists 14 (K. Saugstad 4) Steals 19 (Beekman 6, K. Saugstad 4, Baker 4) Turnovers 6.
Halftime Score:?Marshall 52, New Ulm 10.