The Marshall High School varsity girls basketball team was unable to put together a stretch of consistent play during the Seventh Place Game of the 2007 Book Jammin’ Hoops Tournament, and fell 42-31 to Thomas Jefferson High School.
The Statesmen battled until the final buzzer, forcing two five-second calls and an offensive foul against Jefferson in the closing minutes. Sophomore Carlie Zirkle’s three-pointer then cut the lead to 12, but the Colonials were able to close out the victory.
“We're struggling with fundamentals, we’re struggling with passing well, keeping our composure and learning to play at a varsity level,” Head Coach Noel Klippenstein said. “We’re in the midst of trying to find our identity and trying to figure out what our strengths are and trying to build on our consistencies.”
Zirkle and senior Dawn Emerson each scored a team-high 10 points. Marshall struggled in the first half to deal with Jefferson’s full-court pressure.
“We had moments where we got through [the press] and we passed and we did really well and [then] we missed the shot,” Klippenstein said. “We had other moments where we’d get frustrated and we’d throw the ball away.”
Facing a 35-19 deficit heading into the fourth quarter, Marshall ratcheted up their defensive pressure, creating turnovers and outscoring their opponents 12-7 during the period.
“That was awesome,” Klippenstein said. “Those are moments when we go, ‘Hey, we can build on that.’”
Consistency has been a struggle for the team all season, Klippenstein said, as the team returns no starters from last year’s squad. Klippenstein got a taste of her team’s potential in their previous game, their second game of the tournament, as her team battled against a talented Potomac High School squad in a game that ended in a 73-55 Potomac victory.
“We were boxing out and we were rebounding and we were fighting for the ball and protecting it,” Klippenstein said. “[Potomac was] vicious and more physical than what we saw with TJ.”
Zirkle led all Marshall scorers in the game with 23 points.
Potomac features senior Lynetta Kizer, an exceptionally talented player who will play next year for the University of Maryland. Klippenstein said that her team did not shy away from this challenge, but then failed to match that same intensity against Jefferson.
“[Against Potomac] it was like our kids said ‘All right, I like a challenge,’ and they just went right at it and met it head on,” Klippenstein said. “[But] today we retreated.”
The inexperienced Marshall squad will have to draw on their experiences and disappointments at the tournament if they hope to have success this season.
“Right now, we’re not winning, but we learned a lot,” Klippenstein said. “And the point is, are we going to learn and get better from it? Or are we going to let it have the counterproductive result where we go, ‘Oh, I guess we can’t play’ and we start to give up? And my sense is with this team [that] they are kids that want to pursue [and] keep working.
“We just need to find a way.”