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Marshfield’s Kaydee Johnson eyes the hoop during the first half of the Tigers’ win over Merrill on Friday night at Marshfield High School. (Photo by Paul Lecker/For Zaleski Sports)

By Paul Lecker For Zaleski Sports

MARSHFIELD – The Marshfield girls basketball team countered every punch Merrill threw at them and came away with its sixth-straight win, a 71-61 victory on Friday night at Marshfield High School.

Marshfield maintains its lead in the Wisconsin Valley Conference, improving to 10-5 overall and 8-1 in conference play.

Merrill led 8-7 early as Marshfield had problems finishing at the hoop. The Tigers eventually found a way to get their offense going, regained the lead on a basket by Maddie Michaelis with 12:21 to go in the first half, and never trailed again.

Michaelis’ basket started a 16-7 run that saw Marshfield score on seven of 10 possessions and open up an eight-point lead.

Merrill countered with a 6-0 run, but as they did all game, Marshfield regrouped and were able to take a 33-29 lead into halftime after a 3-pointer from Danielle Minsaas and two baskets from Desirae Weisenberger.

“I thought overall we had five kids in double figures, and that’s what it comes down to,” Marshfield coach Taylor Varsho said. “If we have one or two scoring, it’s hard to win basketball games. Paige Preston stepped up tonight. Kaydee Johnson is just a worker. She’s diving on the floor and does what’s asked. She’s just a great overall leader on the floor. The rest of the kids did a great job, they followed the game plan.

“Defensively, we could be better, but offensively we had a pretty good game tonight.”

Michaelis hit consecutive 3-pointers to spark a 14-3 run by the Tigers to start the second half, opening up their lead to 15.

Marshfield led by double digits for the next nine minutes until Merrill (6-9, 4-5 WVC) put together one last run.

Courtney Krueger and Reese Mrachek had 3-pointers in a 10-3 run that saw the Bluejays cut Marshfield’s lead down to 63-57 with 2:41 to go.

Paige Preston, who had 12 points on 6-for-7 shooting, made a jumper and the Tigers were 6 of 8 at the free throw line in the final 1:14 to keep Merrill at bay.

Michaelis had 19 points on the strength of four 3-pointers, Minsaas added 14 points, Kaydee Johnson had 13, and Weisenberger 11 as all five Marshfield starters scored in double figures.

“We have great senior leadership and everyone shared the ball tonight,” Varsho said.

Marshfield will host Eau Claire North for a nonconference game Tuesday and return to Wisconsin Valley Conference action next Thursday at D.C. Everest.

Tigers 71, Bluejays 61 Merrill 29 32 – 61 Marshfield 33 38 – 71 MERRILL (61): Grade Heldt 0-0 0-0 0, Courtney Krueger 9-22 2-3 21, Nicole Zoellner 3-3 0-0 6, Erin Murray 1-3 0-0 2, Claire Drew 0-2 0-0 0, Reese Mrachek 5-10 3-3 16, Ashley Prebeg 8-13 0-0 16. FG: 26-53. FT: 5-6. 3-pointers: 4-13 (Mrachek 3-6, Krueger 1-5, Murray 0-1, Drew 0-1). Rebounds: 30 (Mrachek 7). Turnovers: 10. Fouls: 12. Fouled out: none. Record: 6-9, 4-5 Wisconsin Valley Conference. MARSHFIELD (71): Kaydee Johnson 4-9 3-6 13, Maddie Michaelis 6-14 3-4 19, Danielle Minsaas 5-9 2-2 14, Desirae Weisenberger 3-11 5-6 11, Paige Preston 6-7 0-0 12, Quincy Lang 0-1 0-0 0, Loryn Jakobi 1-1 0-0 2. FG: 25-52. FT: 13-18. 3-pointers: 6-12 (Michaelis 4-8, Johnson 2-2, Weisenberger 0-1, Preston 0-1). Rebounds: 23 (Weisenberger 8). Turnovers: 6. Fouls: 7. Fouled out: none. Record: 10-5, 8-1 Wisconsin Valley Conference.

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