BY AARON HAGEN
WORTHINGTON -- The Marshall girls basketball team isn’t typically known for its zone defense.
But this season, head coach Dan Westby and the Tigers have used it more frequently. And their defense wreaked havoc on Worthington Friday night in a 69-47 Marshall victory.
“We haven’t played much zone the last few years, but it’s kind of been our go-to defense this year,” Westby said. “We’ll continue to work at it and hopefully get better, but we thought we rotated well in our zone and tried to bottle (Evelyn) Othow a little bit up in the high post. They are a tough matchup; they have some kids who can shoot the 3. Anytime Marshall and Worthington get together, it’s a dogfight.”
The Tigers made sure Othow didn’t have any easy looks in the post, forcing the Trojans to score in other ways.
“We tried to get some high low stuff, but their posts do a nice job of using their arms to hold us behind,” WHS head coach Eric Lindner said. “They did not want (Evelyn) to get it, which is smart.”
The game was close early, with the score tied at 5 with 13 minutes remaining in the first half. Marshall built a 19-point lead late, but a pair of free throws from Othow (seven points, seven rebounds) and 3s from Stephie Bauman and Madisyn Huisman (17 points, seven rebounds) cut the deficit to 11. Marshall’s Jordyn Hilgemann (17 points) made a 3 at the buzzer as Marshall took a 14-point lead into halftime.
Out of the break, the Trojans appeared to be on the cusp of a run as Huisman made a shot and Sophie Wietzema (14 rebounds) hit a free throw.
But the Tigers answered in a big way as they went on a 13-0 run -- which was capped by a 3 from Abigail Wendorff (23 points) -- to push the lead to 27.
“I thought that was kind of the difference there,” Westby said. “After Worthington made that push, we countered and hit a couple 3s and got a couple easy looks inside and we were able to pull away again.”
Olivia Hayenga (eight points) scored four quick points for WHS and Payton Sauerbrei made a jumper and hit a 3 to cut the deficit to 20. But Marshall continued to maintain the lead, aided by a sizeable advantage on the rebounds. The Tigers finished with 49 rebounds compared to 28 for WHS.
“We had a couple of kids who were really physical under the boards,” Westby said. “Early on I thought that was a key for us. I thought we had a nice stretch there in the second half. Worthington made a little bit of a push and we knocked down a couple of 3s and I think those were extremely important at that point. Anytime Marshall and Worthington get together, you don’t know what to expect. Without having the opportunity to practice, it was little bit unnerving coming into this one.”
The Trojans are at Southwest Christian on Thursday.
“We’ve been talking about competing and playing a little more physical. Just trying to figure out what we can do in practice to address those issues,” Lindner said. “They’re frustrated, we’re frustrated. We have to find a way to turn it around and get better.”