By Charlie Sorrels
FAIRMONT - Kenzie Beekman probably is best known for her ability to spike a volleyball after guiding Marshall to the 2013 Class AA state championship and earning a spot on the all-tournament team.
The 5-foot-10 Beekman, however, displayed her basketball skills on Tuesday night, scoring six points during the Class 3A, No. 5-ranked and undefeated Tigers' pivotal 15-0 run against the Fairmont Cardinals during the early stages of their nonconference clash in Fairmont.
Beekman ignited Marshall's double-figure scoring surge at the 13-minute mark to transform the Tigers' narrow 7-6 edge into a 16-point lead midway through the first half.
Beekman finished with 15 points and six steals, while teammate Sarah Buysse produced 17 points, seven rebounds, six steals and seven assists to fuel the Tigers' 63-46 victory over the Cardinals.
Marshall, who improved to 12-0 overall, halted Fairmont's winning streak at five in a row.
"I thought we defended their post players well during the first half, but they got too many looks inside for our liking during the second half," Tiger head coach Dan Westby said in reference to the Cardinals outscoring his lineup 30-26 during the final 18 minutes. "Our defense worked hard, but you have to tip your hat to Fairmont for battling us right to the end."
Indeed. After Cardinal power forward Courtney Mosloski converted Kristen Campe's assist into a baseline bank shot to slice the home team's deficit to 7-6, Beekman and the Tigers pounced to 15 unanswered points to build a 22-6 lead with 8 minutes left in the opening half.
Callie Graff drilled one of the orange-and-black attack's three 3-pointers during the uninterrupted run before Beekman pounded the paint for a 10-footer.
Lexi Saugstad came off the Marshall bench to snap the Cardinal Gym nets on the first of her two 3s before Beekman pocketed a steal and went the distance for the layup.
After Fairmont mentor Don Waletich called timeout at the 10:30 mark, Beekman nailed a baseline jumper off one of Buysse's game-high seven assists before Morgan Saugstad spotted Lexi Saugstad for another trifecta.
Center Kayla Lardy, who produced a double-double performance of 14 points and a game-high 11 boards to complement four blocked shots, cleared the defensive glass to help the Cardinals end their scoring drought.
Lardy kicked the basketball to Sierra Schultz, who threaded a low-post entry pass to Alex Christianson for a leaner in traffic.
"I was proud of the way that Kayla stepped up her game tonight. Her leadership and determination really kept our girls working hard throughout the game," said Waletich, whose lineup played within one point - 40-41 - of Marshall after trailing 22-6. "It was good for our girls to play a team the caliber of Marshall and fight back in the second half."
Lardy converted Sierra Schrader's assist into a low-post basket before Mosloski delivered a spin move along the baseline for a late bucket to pare the Cardinals' gap to 35-16 by intermission.
Christianson, however, worked the baseline and lane to produce eight of her 12 points on the night, while Lardy also tallied eight second-half points and garnered five boards to help Fairmont to a 12-9 second-half rebounding edge en route to a 24-23 margin on the game.
"We got a couple of quick baskets to open the second half, but we couldn't put them away. You have to give Fairmont credit for pounding the ball inside at us during the second half," said Westby.
Christianson's left-wing bank shot and Schultz's runner off the drive pulled the Cardinals within 14 midway through the final half, but that's as close as Fairmont would get. Tiger forward Morgan Saugstad scored all 10 of her points during the final 18 minutes, while Buysse tossed in eight of her game-high 17 to preserve the victory.
Fairmont (13-3, 5-0 South Central) hosts conference opponent Waseca on Friday night, while Marshall (12-0) hosts Sioux Falls, S.D., Washington, also Friday.
MARSHALL 63, FAIRMONT 46
FAIRMONT (13-3 OVERALL): Christianson 4-8 4-4 12, Mosloski 4-7 0-0 8, Lardy 6-10 2-2 14, Campe 2-8 0-0 4, Schultz 2-4 0-0 4, Schrader 1-1 0-0 2, Kim 1-3 0-0 2. Totals: 20-41 6-6 46.
MARSHALL (12-0 OVERALL): Beekman 7-12 0-0 15, M. Saugstad 4-12 2-2 10, Graff 2-3 0-0 5, Bennett 2-5 1-2 5, Buysse 6-15 3-4 17, L. Saugstad 2-4 0-0 6, Mulso 2-6 0-0 4, Petrich 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 25-57 6-8 63.
HALFTIME: Marshall 37, Fairmont 16. 3-point FIELD GOALS: Marshall 7-17 (Buysse 2-5, L. Saugstad 2-3, Graff 1-1, Bennett 1-1, Beekman 1-1, M. Saugstad 0-6); Fairmont 0-7 (Campe 0-5, Lardy 0-1, Kim 0-1). Fouled out: None. Rebounds: Marshall 23 (Buysse 7), Fairmont 24 (Lardy 11). Assists: Marshall 16 (Buysse 7); Fairmont 9 (Schultz 3, Campe 3). Steals: Marshall 19 (Buysse 6, Beekman 6); Fairmont 9 (Christianson 3). Blocked shots: Marshall 0; Fairmont 4 (Lardy 4).