Tigers mangle Trojans, 80-55

MANKATO -- After splitting its two regular-season games, the Marshall Tigers and the Worthington Trojans were set for what appeared to be another slugfest between a pair of Southwest Conference rivals.

MANKATO -- After splitting its two regular-season games, the Marshall Tigers and the Worthington Trojans were set for what appeared to be another slugfest between a pair of Southwest Conference rivals.

Instead, the Tigers ran away from the Trojans, 80-55, Thursday night in the girls' Section 2AAA championship game. With the victory, Marshall will advance to the state tournament next week in Minneapolis.

"I don't want to wake up; it's awesome," Marshall head coach Mary Jo Hmielewski said. "We have a special group of girls that stayed together all year long, and I think we accomplished a lot of things that a lot of people didn't think that we could accomplish. The credit goes to them."

With the most recent contest between the Trojans and the Tigers ending in a two-point victory for Marshall, Hmielewski was surprised to see such a wide spread.

"All week long we worked on down to the wire situations and what we needed to do to, hopefully, pull off a win," Hmielewski said. "When I look at the score, this was never expected, but we'll take it."


The Trojans managed just 23 points in the first half, and couldn't find an offensive rhythm all night against a tough Tiger defense.

"It's pretty disappointing," Worthington head coach Eric Lindner said. "Anytime you come in as the No. 1 seed, there are certain levels of expectation. I don't think we played to our expectation tonight. I don't think we played offensively with any intensity. I thought that we drove to the basket a couple of times, but otherwise we were pretty much a stagnant team. That's something that we haven't seen from us most of the year."

Despite the 25-point final spread, the game was close throughout the first half and the beginning of the second half. Following a jumper from Kaitlin Gerber (seven points) and a trey from Rachel Pavelko (seven points), the game was knotted at 36-all.

However, it was then that the Tigers made their move.

"We played really well," Anna Full said. "We came out in the first half, and we got ahead, but then we let them come back. We knew coming out in the second half that we had to take it to them, and we did just that. Everybody seemed to be ready to knock down the shot and nobody could miss."

Sparked by a 3-point play from Full (26 points, seven rebounds) and a basket from Emily Tate (13 points), the Tigers went on a 12-0 run to take a 48-36 lead.

"We just talked about how they are going to get in your shorts, so if you can go by them and get a step on them, they'll be trailing you," Full said. "So, when I realized that she was in my shorts, I just took a step, the pass was perfect and we just did what we do."

A free throw from Sarah Boever (11 points, six steals) ended the run, but after a shot from Alyssa Smith (10 points), Marshall continued to build its lead and had a 58-39 advantage.


"I thought we really had it together offensively and defensively," Hmielewski said. "We really gelled together as a team. We had everybody step up and take on the challenge. I really think the ladies believed in themselves. We were taking the ball to the hole, and Anna did a nice job of driving and finding open teammates."

A trey from Amanda Larsen (10 points) pushed the lead to 63-41 -- forcing Lindner to take a timeout.

Out of the break, the Trojans went on a 7-0 run behind a shot from Kayla VanderVeen, Kayla Schroeder and Gerber to bring the score to 63-48. However, with the Trojans in foul trouble through most of the second half, Marshall finished on a 17-7 run in the 80-55 victory.

"It's pretty disappointing," Holli Aggen said. "The season is over, but 21-5 isn't a bad record. We played hard all season, and it's just too bad that it had to end this way. I think we were just really excited to come in and play, and our minds weren't there. We did everything that they told us not to do, and it just didn't go our way."

Full and Katie Mulder (10 points) combined for the first 10 points of the game as the Tigers had a 10-5 lead early. However, behind a shot from Boever and a drive from Gerber, Worthington was able to stay within three points early.

A trey from Tate would push the lead to 17-13, but a pair of baskets from Smith and a shot from Boever gave the Trojans a 19-17 lead.

Pavelko converted a layup off a steal with less than five minutes left in the first half, and it appeared the Trojans would have a lead at the break.

But a shot from Kayla Wallerich (eight points) and a trey from Tate gave the Tigers a lead they would never give up.


"We thought we'd do a lot better and thought we'd come out with a 'W' tonight, but we didn't really play our game ,and we played into what they wanted," Pavelko said.

Trailing 28-23 at half, the Trojans came out on a 13-8 run to tie the game at 36-all before Marshall made the run to seal the victory.

"You have to give them credit," Lindner said. "We wish them luck, and we hope that they represent our section well, and I know they will."

While the Tigers will hope to continue the momentum into the state tournament, it didn't come without hard work for Marshall.

"We knew coming into the season that this is where we wanted to be, and I don't think anybody believed we could do it," Full said "But we never doubted ourselves, so now it feels great to finally be here."

Marshall 28 52 -- 80

Worthington 23 32 -- 55

Marshall (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) Full 0-9-7-26, Mulder 0-3-4-10, Larsen 1-2-3-10, Tate 3-2-0-13, Wallerich 0-2-2-8, Westby 1-1-4-9, Beekman 0-1-0-2, Tykwinski 0-1-0-2. Totals 5-21-23-80.


Worthington (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) Smith 0-5-0-10, Aggen 2-2-4-14, S. Boever 0-5-1-11, Gerber 12-0-7, Pavelko 1-2-0-7, VanderVeen 0-2-0-4, Schroeder 0-1-0-2. Totals 4-19-5-55.

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