Owls end regular season with mixed results
KIRKSVILLE -- As it has in four of the past six years, Marshall's traditional finale to the regular season ended up in a split with Kirksville on Friday -- the Lady Owls tasting a 47-24 NCMC setback on the road and the MHS boys surviving a 53-48 scare.
"We needed a win, especially on the road," noted head coach Scott Harrold, whose Marshall boys' team avoided its first three-game losing streak of the season. "I hope it will give us a little confidence back."
After the Owls cracked Kirksville's 2-3 zone defense, senior Derik Lavers and junior Erik Roehrs went to work on the man-to-man -- combining for nine points to give Marshall a 10-point lead midway through the second quarter. However, the Tigers finished the half with a flourish and trailed by just two at the break.
"It was Senior Night for them and there was a lot of emotion," Harrold said. "Their kids play hard and never give up."
However, after scoring 12 first-half points, Kirksville sophomore Tyler Martin was limited to just one point the rest of the way by the defense of senior Marcus Yokeley. Still, the Owls were unable to pull away.
A technical foul against junior Robbie Johnson with three minutes remaining allowed Kirksville senior Zane Taylor to sink two free throws to tie the game, but the Tigers were unable to come up with a bucket on the ensuing possession.
During the final two minutes, Lavers came up with two goals -- while Marshall came up with a two defensive stops -- and converted a free throw with nine seconds remaining to pull out the victory.
Junior Kyle Beckemeyer led Kirksville (12-12, 0-7 NCMC) with 16 points. Lavers had 26 points and nine rebounds and Durham finished with 20 points for the Owls (18-7, 4-3) -- who got just three points off the bench.
Marshall begins play in the District 9AAA Tournament at Eldon on Tuesday against Warsaw. Harrold is hoping that picking up a win can spur the Owls into regaining the form they displayed during the mid-season stretch in which they won 10 of 11 games.
"If we can build on this Tuesday and then through the rest of the week, we'll be all right," Harrold said.
The Lady Owls put together a 15-3 run during the middle of the first half to take a 15-9 lead, but then collapsed as Kirksville picked up its intensity -- scoring 18 straight points over a 10-minute span to bury the visitors.
"They started switching defenses, which we didn't recognize," explained MHS head coach Jeff Martin. "They picked up their physical presence and we just kind of rolled over."
Sophomore Trisha Lyons scored 15 points and seven rebounds for the Lady Tigers (18-6, 6-1) -- who controlled the glass by a 39-23 margin and forced 31 Marshall turnovers to finish in a first-place tie with Mexico. Senior Ashley Fann's 13 points topped the Lady Owls, who shot just 20.6 percent from the field.
"It's not what you want to see going into district," Martin said. "When the going got tough, we didn't respond very well."
Marshall (12-12, 4-3) begins its defense of the district title today against School of the Osage -- which the Lady Owls whipped, 57-39, last month at the California Tournament. For a team whose "confidence is lagging," according to Martin, the first-round opponent could be a needed pick-me-up.
"Our focus isn't where it needs to be," he admitted. "A couple of wins will help that."