Day 1: Duluth Marshall girls basketball already turning eyes to state

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On Monday the Duluth Marshall high school girl’s basketball team tipped off their first practice of the 2021-2022 season. Already on day one the Hilltoppers were discussing plans to clinch their third straight section title and return to the state tournament with their new team.

"We have a ton of eighth graders I’m just finding out so I think one of the main things that we’re going to have to do is teach those habits that us older, upper-classmen have taken from Grace [Kirk] and Gianna [Kneepkens] and pass them down," senior Dasia Stark explained. "Really just stay competitive and just keep pushing each other to do better."

Head coach Chibuzo (CJ) Osuchukwu added, "the goal hasn’t changed, the goal is to get back to state. I think we’re going to be a lot better than what people think and I think we do have a really good chance to get to state this year."

While the powerhouse duo of Kirk, a 2020 Duluth Marshall graduate, and Minnesota state points leader Kneepkens (2021) era officially over Coach Osuchukwu said their legacy will linger, leaving a long lasting impact on the program. He’s confident with their largest and youngest crew yet that this Hilltopper squad will grow into their shoes.

"A lot of the girls look up to Grace and Gianna, some of these girls played with Gianna last year, so you know they want to carry on that legacy and keep it going."

Senior forward Laila Monroe added, "Gianna with her skill and all that, she pushed us every day, same with Grace but last year. She was our competition and everything we did was with her and she really taught us a lot of things in the game of basketball and life in general."

Duluth Marshall will tip-off their season December 2nd hosting Two Harbors.