Adapting to and thriving in a game played at a frenetic pace, the Marshall Tigers built a 21-point lead against St. Paul Johnson and held off a late charge by the Governors for a 71-62 victory in the third-place game of the Class AAA boys' basketball tournament Saturday at Concordia University-St. Paul.
The Governors' speed and defensive intensity got to the Tigers early on, as Marshall committed five turnovers in the first two-and-a-half minutes, but Marshall settled down and used a 10-0 run to build a 23-12 lead after a layup by Tanner Bukowski with 8 minutes, 19 seconds left in the half. Marshall (29-3 overall) also got St. Paul Johnson's leading scorer, 6-foot-3 forward Quashingm Smith-Pugh, in foul trouble in the half, which helped allow the Tigers to take a 39-24 lead by halftime.
Marshall led by as many as 21 in the second half and by 16 with 3:46 remaining after a pair of free throws by senior guard Austin Saugstad, but St. Paul Johnson went on an 11-0 run fueled by their pressure defense to cut the lead to five with 1:12 left in the game. Saugstad hit a pair of free throws with a minute left and Hunter Peterson scored a layup 14 seconds later to push the lead back to double figures and effectively seal the game.
The Marshall Tigers pose with their Class AAA boys' basketball state tournament third-place trophy following a 71-62 win over St. Paul Johnson at Concordia University-St. Paul.
Junior guard Riley Sharbono scored 10 of his game-high 18 points in the first half and also had eight rebounds. Saugstad finished with 17 points, six rebounds and four assists. He made 10 of 13 free throw attempts in the game. Senior forward Derek Buysse added 15 points, and fellow senior Tanner Bukowski also reached double figures with 10 points and four steals.
The Tigers held a 30-15 rebounding edge at halftime and finished the game with a 50-35 advantage on the boards. Senior forward Aaron Mathiowetz had a game-high 16 rebounds for the Tigers.
There will be a welcome home celebration for the Tigers at 1 p.m. Sunday at the Marshall High School theater.