CLASS AAA GIRLS BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT: Tigers bounce back to defeat Austin

Photo by Sam Thiel Marshall's Lenei Estrada drives around an Austin defender during their Class AAA consolation semifinal game Thursday at Concordia-St. Paul.

ST. PAUL – After a heart-breaking start to their state tournament, the Marshall girls basketball team knew it needed to put together a bounce-back performance if it was going to extend its season another day. The Tigers were able to do just that, holding on against Austin 49-44 in the Class AAA consolation semifinals Thursday at Concordia-St. Paul.

Marshall coach Dan Westby felt they had another great effort and was pleased to see his team respond to the tough loss on Wednesday against Becker.

“You always wonder how your kids are going to deal with a disappointing loss but I thought the fact that we came out and got a couple of baskets early kind of helped our kids settle back in and we really had another great effort again,” Westby said. “I thought defensively we were pretty strong holding this team under 50 points and it was good to see them bounce back.”

Paige Andries was proud of their fight as a group, simply adding they just weren’t ready to be done yet.

“I think we really fought hard because we didn’t want it to end, we didn’t want to go home,” Andries said.

Another close

finish for Tigers

After holding the Packers to just 17 points in the first half, the Tigers looked to create some separation in the opening minutes of the second frame. Marshall’s perimeter shooting would come through, as Lenei Estrada and Kaia Sueker connected on consecutive triples to give the Tigers their first double-digit lead at 27-17 before they later extended it to 32-20 with 10:47 to go.

Austin wouldn’t go down without a fight, however, using an 8-1 run to cut the deficit to within five at 33-28 before reaching the five-point margin again at 40-35 with four minutes to play. The two teams would trade baskets on their next possessions before four straight free throws by the Tigers made it 46-38 with 1:27 left. The Packers then got a response thanks to a 3-pointer and a floater to make it just a four-point game at 47-43 with 20 seconds left, before a free throw from Austin got itself to within three with 4.8 seconds remaining.

The Packers would miss the second free throw, though, and Abby Wendorff corralled the rebound and found Estrada, who was quickly fouled with just 1.4 seconds on the clock. Estrada went to the free-throw line and connected on both shots, helping secure the Tigers victory and a spot in the consolation finals.

Defense shines

to start

Similar to their game against Becker, the Tigers were able to get out to another strong start, as Marshall opened the game on a 7-2 run before Austin answered with a run of its own to take a 13-8 lead. Despite not being able to get into a consistent groove on offense over the next few minutes, Marshall continued to stick to its gameplan, and found a spark from its defense.

Using 10 Austin turnovers to their advantage, the Tigers turned it into quick offense and used a personal four-point run by Emily Meier to cut the deficit to one at 13-12 with 7:59 left before back-to-back 3-pointers from Estrada and Wendorff put Marshall in front at 19-17 with 1:30 to go in the first half. A Jordyn Hilgemann layup would add to the Marshall run and give the Tigers a slim 21-17 lead going into the locker rooms and setting the stage for the tight play in the second frame.

Westby said their key on the defensive end was mixing things up throughout the game and maintaining their pressure in the full-court.

“We did some mixing and played a couple of different defenses, I think that slowed them down, but then they figured things out and made things a little bit more difficult for us and we went back to man-to-man,” Westby said. “Overall, I thought it was a great effort; I thought our pressure was effective again.”

Hilgemann led the way for Marshall with 14 points while Sueker and Estrada each added 10. Paige Andries led in rebounds with 10 while Estrada led in assists with four.

Meier said they did a good job of having strong ball movement and finding the open player on the floor.

“It was just about keeping the ball moving and looking for open spots and working hard together,” Meier said.

Marshall (22-8) will face Hibbing today in the consolation championship at 4 p.m. at Concordia-St. Paul. Westby knows it’s going to be another challenging and physical matchup and they’re going to have to come out ready.

“They’re a tremendous team and have one of the best players in the state in the McDonald kid, so it’ll be another tough one and we’re going to have to be ready to go,” Westby said.

Marshall 49, Austin 44

Austin 17 27 – 44

Marshall 21 28 – 49

SCORING: Marshall (Hilgemann 5-14, 4-7 14; Estrada 2-6, 4-6 10; Sueker 3-7, 2-2 10; Wendorff 2-5, 1-2 6; Meier 1-5, 3-5 5; Andries 0-2, 4-6 4).

REBOUNDS: Marshall 30 (Andries 10; Wendorff 5; Meier 4).

ASSISTS: Marshall 10 (Estrada 4; Sueker, Hilgemann 2; Meier, Wendorff 1).

STEALS: Marshall 11 (Jones, Wendorff 3; Andries 2; Naughton, Sueker, Estrada 1).

BLOCKS: Marshall none.