The Marshall Tigers are on the prowl for another state title and another perfect season.
Jordyn Hilgemann scored 25 of her game-high 30 points in the second half as No. 5 Marshall rallied to beat second-ranked and top-seeded Academy of Holy Angels, 75-58, Tuesday in a Class 3A state girls basketball tournament semifinal at Target Center.
The Tigers advanced to Friday’s championship game, where they will face No. 3 Becker, which blitzed top-ranked Hill-Murray in Tuesday’s late game.
Marshall (23-0) advanced to the 3A title game for the sixth time, and the Tigers are looking for their first championship since the 2002 team finished a perfect 29-0 season with the second of back-to-back titles.
Senior Francesca Vascellaro scored a team-high 19 points, and Emily Meier pulled down a game-high 15 rebounds for Holy Angels. But the Stars also committed 27 turnovers, not all of them forced by the Tigers’ aggressive, full-court defense.
Hilgemann was relatively quiet in the first half, held to one field goal and three free throws, but she scored 14 of the Tigers’ first 16 points of the second half.
“She’s done that this year,” Marshall coach Dan Westby said. “She kind of has a good feel for when we need some offense and has generally been pretty good about getting us going. We certainly needed it. She put us on her back a little bit.”
Two aggressive, pressing defenses forced a combined 24 turnovers, 14 by Holy Angels, in a frenetic first half. Once Marshall built a double-digit lead, the Tigers slowed the pace and forced the Stars, desperate for possessions, to foul.
“The kids did a nice job controlling the pace,” Westby said.
By the end of the game, Marshall had gone to the line 42 times, Holy Angels 13. That didn’t sit well with Stars coach Dan Woods.
“Did we have stupid turnovers? Yes. Did we do things we’re not supposed to do? Yes,” Woods said. “But in a game that is that physical, there’s no way there should be a disparity like that. I know it’s not going to be even, but they finished with 42.”
The Stars (19-3) twice led by as much as seven, the first time 28-21 late in the first half. But each time, Marshall answered with a run. The Tigers used a 13-3 run to take a 34-31 lead before the Stars pulled into a 34-34 halftime tie on a three-point play by Rachel Kawiecki with 0.5 seconds left.
The Stars quickly regained momentum after intermission, using a 10-4 run to go ahead 45-38 in a midrange jumper by Vascellaro with 13 minutes, 22 seconds left. Westby called a timeout to settle his players.
“I just felt we had to be more selective with our shots, that we were rushing too much. Really, we haven’t been guilty of that all year long,” Westby said. “We talked about the fact, ‘Why start now?’ ”
Powered by Hilgemann, the Tigers responded with a 17-2 run to take a 55-48 lead.
From there, a game that featured nine lead changes and four ties in the first half quickly got out of hand. Holy Angels outrebounded the Tigers, 45-38, but Marshall scored 22 points off turnovers and scored their last 16 points from the free-throw line.
Hilgemann was 15 for 16 from the line and made all eight of her attempts late to help the Tigers pull away. She added five rebounds and five steals.
Ashliegh Steinbach added 16 points, and Abigail Wendorf added 11 points, five rebounds and three steals for Marshall.