First State Tournament Appearance in 20 Years Awaits Marshall Girls Basketball Team

Tip-off for Wednesday's game against New London-Spicer is set for 8 p.m.

DULUTH, Minn. – It’s crazy to think that the year 2000 was 20 years ago. That was the last time the Duluth Marshall girls basketball team made it to the state tournament.

The Hilltoppers are coming off a stellar run in the Section 7AA tournament. But now the focus shifts from celebrating a historic section title win to getting ready to take on the best teams in the state in the Class AA tournament.

“We worked hard all season to get to that point and as soon as we won, we knew we could enjoy the night. But later we would have to lock in and practice. We can still talk about it and enjoy it. But just during practice, it’s important to focus and lock in and know that this team is going to be good. The also made it to state,” said guard Gianna Kneepkens.

And that team will be #3 seed New London-Spicer, who come into the tournament with a 24-1 record. The Hilltoppers know the Wildcats will focus on stopping their dynamic backcourt. So it’s up to the other players to step up and make their presence felt.

“If Laila [Monroe] steps up and hits midrange shots, they’re going to have to figure out how to stop her. And while doing that, they’re going to take their eyes off of Gianna [Kneepkens] and Gianna is going to hit a couple threes. I think throughout the season everybody has improved and everybody is ready to take that next shot,” guard Grace Kirk said.

“I feel like if we defend good and rebound good, we’re going to be OK. We have been the underdogs all year. Nobody really thought we would get this far. Not a lot of people think that but us. We’re just going into the game and treating it like another game,” said head coach CJ Osuchukwu.

Tip-off for Wednesday’s game is set for 8 p.m. at the University of Minnesota’s Maturi Pavilion.

Categories: High School, Sports