MANKATO — The Mankato East boys basketball could not handle the overpowering efforts of the Marshall Tigers on Saturday. The Cougars fell in the Section 2AAA semifinals 60-41 at Bresnan Arena.
East was able to hang with Marshall throughout the first half, trailing by just eight points heading into the locker room. But the Tigers ran away with it after the intermission, halting the Cougars to just 15 second-half points, including a 20-5 run that eclipsed just under 10 minutes to send the Tigers to the section championship next Thursday against Mankato West.
Though the Cougars’ season ended in jagged fashion, head coach Dave Makela understands his team has come a long way since starting off the season 2-5 and is appreciative at how they have played toward the second half of the season.
“Where we were at the beginning of the year, I didn’t think we were a very good basketball team in the sense of getting to our full potential,” Makela said. “We played so well in January and February, and going into this game, we thought we had a good game plan. But it was indicative that Marshall had so many good players who stepped up, and they deserved to win tonight.”
The Cougars' offensive gameplan was to move the ball around in search of finding shooters on the outside, but Marshall countered with a stifling defensive effort that minimized second and third opportunities in a game where East struggled finishing from the perimeter.
“We were just trying to give them different looks,” Marshall coach Travis Carroll said of his defense. “Mankato East has athleticism, and that’s hard to defend so we gave them a couple looks and I thought our guys did a good job of limiting their second and third opportunities. ... They do a great job on the boards so it was great for us to take away some of their offensive rebounding.”