The Marceline girls' basketball team will live to see another day after a runaway victory against Milan.
The Tigers defeated the Wildcats on Monday night in the opening round of the Class 2 District 7 tournament, 66-45. Fourth-seeded Marceline advances in the eight-team Schuyler County bracket to face top-seeded Salisbury (19-7) in the semifinals on Thursday at 4:30 p.m.
"We've got to do the small things right on Thursday," Marceline coach Jordan Beck said. "We'll be outsized for sure, but we've got to work on the defensive end and make our shots count when we have them open. We worked the ball around and got stops tonight, and we have to do that again Thursday."
In the first half of Monday night's game, the Tigers dominated on the boards against a slightly larger Milan team, but failed to really put the hammer down early due to characteristic free-throw troubles. Marceline was 6-of-13 from the charity stripe in the first half, including clanking the front end of two one-and-one opportunities, but never trailed throughout the evening after taking an 11-10 lead near the end of the first quarter.
The Tigers took a 29-27 lead into the halftime break, and went on a quick 7-1 run to open the third quarter, marking the first time in the game either team led by more than three points. The Tigers sprung the lead to 13 points by the end of the third quarter, and scored nine of the game's next 10 points to force the disparity to all but insurmountable for the Wildcats.
"We started out slow, and didn't make our free throws," Beck said. "We got to the line, though. We got some transition points in the second half, saw the floor well, and knocked down some shots."
Marceline junior guard Maycee Edgar set the early tone, scoring 15 of her 22 points in the first half, including knocking down a three-pointer in each of the game's two inaugural quarters. Guard Kenzie Stahl and forward Jaylea Bixenmann were also in double figures in scoring, finishing with respective tallies of 14 and 10 points. Baylee Jobson and Becka Gouge both finished with nine.
Evelyn Castro was Milan's only scorer in double figures, finishing with 12 points on four three-pointers, but she clanked considerably more than she made from beyond the arc.
Milan coach Nathan Simler said his team had a terrible time stopping big runs in the second half.
"We got down a little bit, and we started dropping our heads," Simler said. "It was really close to our hearts, and we couldn't get that momentum back. I think we got a little tired, and they did a great job of cleaning up the glass. We got lost on defense a few times."
Milan ends its season 14-12, while Marceline advances to 13-13 with the victory.