MARSHALL - In the Marshall girls basketball team's final practice run before its key matchup with rival Worthington, Windom Area struggled to give the Tigers much of a challenge on Friday night. The Tigers blew the doors open early and strolled to an easy 73-34 win over the Eagles at Marshall High School, and now have an eye on clinching the Southwest Conference crown with a victory over the Trojans tonight.
Facing a Windom Area team that is winless in conference play, the Tigers (16-5 overall, 10-0 SWC) flew out to a 21-4 lead over the first seven minutes by forcing multiple turnovers with their full-court pressure and getting easy baskets in transition. With a big early lead, Marshall still managed to keep up its energy through much of the rest of the contest.
Marshall head coach Dan Westby was pleased that his players stayed focused on the game they were playing rather than looking ahead to tonight's big game against the Trojans.
Photo by Matt Dahlseid
Marshall’s Kelli VanLeeuwe, left, pushes the ball up the court while being trailed by Windom Area’s Rachel Sorensen during the second half of Friday night’s Southwest Conference game at Marshall High School.
"We think this is a big weekend for us and we thought getting off to a good start tonight was important," Westby said. "Two things that I thought our kids did a nice job of were that I thought we played hard and I thought we played with a lot of energy, and that's something we've talked a lot about."
Twelve different Tigers scored in the game. Kenzie Beekman led the way with 12 points, while Kelsey Saugstad had 11 points and Morgan Saugstad tacked on 10. Kelsey Saugstad also had six assists and three steals.
With waves of players being subbed in and out, Westby said he liked the flow to the team's offense.
Windom Area (34)
Abby Hayenga 3 0-1 6, Amber Eigenberg 2 0-0 4, Rachel Sorensen 2 2-4 6, Holly Larson 5 0-0 10, Gina Hauge 4 0-3 8. Totals 16 2-8 34. Three-pointers 0 Total Fouls 15.
Lexi Saugstad 1 0-0 3, Morgan Saugstad 3 2-2 10, Steph Baker 1 1-1 3, Kelsey Saugstad 4 0-2 11, Kenzie Beekman 6 0-0 12, Hannah Bennett 2 0-0 5, Kelli VanLeeuwe 0 6-6 6, Jessica Baker 2 0-0 4, Sarah Buysse 1 3-4 5, Callie Graff 1 0-2 2, Sarah Andersen 3 0-0 6, Sydney Griffin 2 2-2 6. Totals 26 14-19 73. Three-pointers 7 (K. Saugstad 3, M. Saugstad 2) Rebounds 31 (Baker 7, Beekman 6) Assists 17 (K. Saugstad 6) Steals 21 (Beekman 4, M. Saugstad 3, K. Saugstad 3, Griffin 3) Blocks 1 Total Fouls 14.
Halftime Score: Marshall 42, Windom Area 16.
"We had a couple possessions there where all five players touched the ball before we got a shot and that was good to see," he said. "Something we talked about at halftime was we thought that Kelsey really did a nice job of looking up the court and hitting people on the break. Our kids did a nice job of getting up the floor and Kelsey did a nice job of locating them."
Only five players scored for the Eagles. Forward Holly Larson was the only Windom Area player to reach double figures, scoring 10 points.
The Tigers now focus their attention on Worthington, which comes into tonight's game with a 9-1 conference record. Marshall defeated the Trojans 75-63 on Dec. 15, but Westby took a look at Worthington last week and said they look have improved since the last meeting.
"They're going about 10 kids deep, so it appears that they're pretty comfortable with anybody they put in there," he said. "We're anticipating that they'll come up here and be ready to play. They've got some kids who can put the ball in the basket, so it'll be a big challenge for us."