CLASS AAA GIRLS BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT: Bonds that go beyond basketball

ST. PAUL – There are a lot of factors that go into having a successful season. But none of them can ever surpass the most important key to seeing that success come to life: togetherness and team unity.

All season long, the Marshall girls basketball team had relied on that bond that’s stronger than glue and through that special connection with each other, the Tigers were able to cap off their season with a win and a consolation championship trophy at the Class AAA tournament.

That bond has been helped solidified through the Tigers’ three seniors this season in Erica Jones, Kaia Sueker and Courtney Toulouse. Jones said they’ve been a close-knit group all year and is extremely proud of the way they came together and played their best at the end.

“We’ve just had such a tight-knit team this whole season and we’ve had our ups and downs like every team does but just the ability that this team had to turn it on at tournament time is amazing,” Jones said. “We just played our best basketball these past three weeks and it’s been a lot of fun to see that.”

A strong senior class can have an effect on a lot of things for a team. For the younger players, such as Jordyn Hilgemann, the impact the seniors have had on the rest of the team is beyond measurable.

“They’ve been outstanding leaders,” Hilgemann said. “They’ve led by example, they’ve shown us how to work hard; I can’t even tell you how much we’re going to miss them.”

With any hard-working and successful team like the Tigers comes a ton of life-lasting memories. For the seniors, they have had many that come to mind, such as the most recent one for Sueker of just being able to walk off the floor as a group and see all of their hard work come to fruition.

“I’d say for sure, this is a big one. I just love this team so much and I’ve had a great time,” Sueker said. “It’s gone so fast but I think we’ve just had so many great memories together that I’m going to remember for the rest of my life.”

For Jones, the Section 2AAA championship game against Waseca a few weeks ago came to mind.

“I think the Waseca game was just the most fun,” Jones said. “We lost to them twice earlier in the year and then our ability to come out and beat them to go to state was a ton of fun.”

Toulouse said there were so many to choose from and it’s just been a lot of fun getting to play with this group and wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I don’t know, everything. It’s so much fun and I wouldn’t trade it for the world,” Toulouse said. “Just being out there on the floor with them is the best feeling ever and I would never trade it for anything.”

As for advice for their fellow teammates, there was a general message from all three seniors: keep working hard, enjoy every moment and give it your all.