LE GRAND - East Marshall's intensity caught the Trojans off guard early Friday.
But once they matched it, there was no looking back for the West Marshall girls' basketball team.
Ratcheting up their defense in the second half, the Trojans (4-0, 1-0) pulled away with a 16-0 run spanning the halves to cruise past the Mustangs 72-38 in NICL West Division play. Rachel Freland led the charge with 22 points and six steals while draining four shots from behind the arc.
T-R PHOTO BY TYLER STRAND
West Marshall’s Whitney Benson (15) fires a jumper over East Marshall’s Taylor Fricke in first half action at Le Grand Friday. The Trojans used a 16-0 run spanning the second and third quarters to break away for a 72-38 NICL West Division victory.
"East Marshall's kids really played hard in the first half and kind of surprised us a bit. We were just going through the motions at both ends of the court," said West Marshall coach Fred Zeller.
"Our girls woke up and started pressing harder in the second half. Our team defense was way better in the third quarter."
Trailing 24-23 late in second period, the Trojans grabbed some momentum before the half as Jennifer Davis cashed in a Mustang turnover for two points inside and McKenna Hotopp drilled a 3 before the halftime buzzer to give the visitors a four-point cushion at intermission. Hotopp's three capped a minute long possession for the Trojans who were content to drain the clock as the Mustangs (0-4, 0-1) stood back.
West Marshall 72, East Marshall 38
At Le Grand
WEST MARSHALL (4-0) - Rachel Freland 8 2-3 22, McKenna Hotopp 6 0-0 13, Whitney Benson 5 2-3 12, Mackenzie Coberley 0 1-2 1, Tori Pothast 1 0-0 2, Sydney Beals 3 3-4 9, Madisen Streeter 1 0-0 2, Gabby Ryerson 4 0-0 8, Addie Wilkinson 0 0-0 0, Jennifer Davis 4 3-3 11. totals 31 11-5 72.
EAST MARSHALL (0-4) - Taylor Fricke 7 2-2 16, Meriel Leavy 2 3-6 7, Katie Roseland 3 0-2 6, Kristen Amendt 1 0-0 2, Ashley Allen 1 0-0 3, Callie Roseland 1 0-2 2, Madisen Hinegardner 1 0-0 2, Mariah Fritz 1 0-0 2. TOTALS 16 5-12 38.
3-Point Goals - WM 4 (Freland 4), EM 3 (Fricke 2, Allen)
"That gave us a little bit of a push, but that was one of very few things that we did right in the first half," said Zeller.
If that play didn't take the wind out East Marshall's sails, the Trojans' suffocating second half defense certainly did.
"They picked up their intensity. I thought we outplayed them in the first half but we got pretty passive with our press breaker in the second half and turned the ball over way too many times," said East Marshall coach Darrin Nuese.
West Marshall got its transition game going after the break as several Mustang turnovers turned into easy points for the Trojans. Following a block from Freland, Whitney Benson punctuated West Marshall's 16-0 surge with a basket to widen the margin to 39-24 midway through the third. The visitors' lead never dipped below 12 the rest of the way as the Mustangs were outscored 26-6 in the third quarter and 44-14 in the second half.
It didn't help matters that the Mustangs' primary ball handler, point guard Mariah Fritz, rolled an ankle less than two minutes into the contest and didn't return. Her status is uncertain moving forward.
"(Her ankle) is swelling up quite a bit so she could be out for a while," said Nuese.
A long jumper from Madisen Hinegardner pulled the home team within 17-13 to close out the opening period. A trey from Sydney Beals capped an 8-0 run for the Mustangs to give them a 21-19 advantage midway through the second before the teams traded buckets down the stretch.
Hotopp finished with 12 points and four steals, while Benson added 12 points, four assists and five boards. Davis had 11 points and five boards, while Beals and Gabby Ryerson chipped in nine and eight points respectively for the Trojans.
Taylor Fricke led the Mustangs with 16 points and seven rebounds, while Katie Roseland added nine points and Meriel Leavy tallied seven.
West Marshall faces Grundy Center on the road Tuesday, while East Marshall battles South Tama that same night.