An offensive explosion opened the game up and a smothering defensive effort closed it out, as the Marshall High School girls varsity basketball team cruised past Langley 64-38 Tuesday night.
It looked as though the Statesmen may face trouble in the early going, after the Saxons sprinted out to a 5-0 lead off five points from freshman guard Kristen Kody. However, Marshall answered emphatically, scoring the next 14 straight points and assuming a lead they would never relinquish.
All five Marshall starters scored during that span, a theme that would be echoed for the duration of the night. Five different players scored six points or more for the Statesmen (11-4, 6-1), with Nicole Harrison leading the way with 15, most of those coming in transition following Saxon turnovers. Maya Al-Shingieti was next on the high-scorers ledger with 13 points, while Alison Johnson also finished in double digits with 10. KT Mesich, Laura Burch and Astrid Adam each had six points apiece.
Langley had trouble coping with the defense of Marshall’s speedy guards and the height of Marshall’s interior players. That combination wreaked havoc on a Saxon offense that was disrupted by full-court pressure and blocked shots all night long. When Langley did manage a clean shot, Mesich, Johnson, Burch of Al-Shingieti was almost always there to claim the rebound.
“Over the years we have not been a good rebounding team, so that was a point of focus from day one of tryouts,” Marshall Head Coach Noel Klippenstein said.
The Lady Statesmen have not been outrebounded this season.
After claiming a 22-11 lead at the end of the first quarter, Marshall extended its lead to 18 in the second half. While the Saxons would trim that lead back to 16, they would not score more than nine points in the quarter and head into the break trailing 36-20.
The only slip in the ferocious Marshall attack came in the third quarter, when the Statesmen began missing a few high-percentage shots in the low post. However, Marshall remained strong on the defensive end and still extended its lead to 47-30 to end the quarter. In the fourth, the Statesmen pulled away for good, going up by 24 with under a minute remaining before a final baseline jumper by Kody accounted for the 64-38 final score.
The victory over Langley pushes the Marshall winning streak to seven games, with wins over every Liberty District opponent — except rival Madison.
Those two teams square off at Marshall at 7:30 p.m. this Friday with first place in the district on the line. The Warhawks defeated the Statesmen at Madison earlier this season, 52-44 and remain unbeaten in the district.
“In general we are playing better in January, our posts are more confident and have had success versus tall players … in the battle of rebounds,” Klippenstein said. “Our wings are scoring more regularly and sharing the ball handling more. It fell on Nicole [Harrison] mostly in December. Our bench is getting more reps and minutes in games that are challenging and they are converting points. They average 10.4 points per game and are helping with rebounds and defense too.”
Prior to defeating Langley on Tuesday night, the Lady Statesmen snuffed out the McLean Highlanders on Friday by a score of 49-41. Al-Shingieti led the Statesmen with 14 points, while Nicole Harrison added 13. McLean’s Ashleigh Cole led all scorers with 21 points on the night.