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Girls basketball: Trojans face big test with Marshall

WORTHINGTON — The Marshall Tigers are 3-0. The Worthington Trojans are 3-0. And tonight in Worthington, one of the two is going to get saddled with its first loss of the girls basketball season.

The other one will still stay unbeaten in an early test of Section 2AAA and Southwest Conference dominance.

It’s an important game. Just ask Marshall head coach Dan Westby.

“It certainly has more importance this year than it did a year ago, in the fact that Worthington is in our section,” Westby said on Wednesday.

Marshall won the Southwest Conference in 2012-13 with a perfect 12-0 record, finishing 24-4 overall before falling 53-46 to Mankato East in the semifinals of the Section 2AAA tournament. Meanwhile, Worthington went 9-3 in the conference and 21-6 overall, dropping a 66-64 decision to BOLD in the Section 3AA finals.

Thus far into the 2013-14 campaign, Worthington has beaten Fairmont 68-64, Windom Area 77-44 and Jackson County Central 83-64. The fast-breaking, offensively-minded Trojans on Tuesday were led by Ana Boever and Brooke Henning who both scored 25 points. Abbie Landgaard was their best enabler, dishing out nine assists.

The Tigers have beaten Hutchinson 63-50, Dassel-Cokato 57-44 and Redwood Valley 64-34. Sarah Buysse scored 15 points and Kenzie Beekman added 14 in the Redwood Valley game Tuesday, but it was defense that really set MHS apart. In a post-game interview, Westby sounded disappointed when reminded that the Cardinals scored 22 first-half points.

That was because his players lost track of Redwood’s shooters, he said. They found them in the second half: Redwood Valley only scored 12 second half points.

If there is a potential theme for tonight’s meeting between the Tigers and the Trojans, it may be offense versus defense. The Trojans have many capable shooters and a deep bench. Head coach Eric Lindner can run several of his players on and off the court liberally, keeping them fresh.

For the Tigers, defense is key.

“We finished in the top ten in our class last year defensively, and that’s what we feel should be a strength for us (this season),” Westby said. “There are going to be nights when the ball’s not going to go in the basket, and those are the times when we’re going to have to play well defensively.”

Who knows? Tonight may be one of those nights.

Westby says it’s too early to tell if his Tigers can be as good as they were last year. But he does have three starters returning in the junior Buysse, and seniors Beekman and Hannah Bennett. So far, Marshall’s offense has been balanced, with five different players who’ve scored in double figures. The defense will play either man-to-man or zone.

“They like to get up and down the court and put points up in a hurry,” Westby says of the Trojans, “and we just have to find a way to slow them down a bit.”

Doug Wolter

Doug Wolter is the Daily Globe sports editor. He served as sports reporter, then sports editor, news editor and finally managing editor at the Daily Globe for 22 years before leaving for seven years to work as night news editor at the Mankato Free Press in Mankato. Doug now lives in Worthington with his wife, Sandy. They have three children and seven grandchildren. Doug, retired after a lengthy career in fast-pitch softball, enjoys reading, strumming his acoustic guitar and hanging around his grandchildren. He also writes books on fiction. Two of his stories, "The Genuine One" and "The Old Man in Section 129" have been distributed through a national publisher.

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