DULUTH, MN. -- 10 months ago, the Duluth Marshall girls basketball team made it to the state tournament for the first time in 20 years, but COVID-19 brought their quest for a championship to an abrupt halt.
Now, the Hilltoppers are back on the court with revenge on their minds.
That's where we want to be [the state tournament]. We want to go out there and prove to everybody that it wasn't a fluke, it wasn't a one-time thing," said head coach CJ Osuchukwu.
Showing the state it wasn't a fluke, and that the Hilltoppers should be on the eyes of all in girls basketball.
"We want to put that fear in people's hearts for years to come, that if you want to get to state you are going to have to beat Marshall girls basketball," said Osuchukwu.
And following state guideline's being relaxed, it's time once again for the Hilltoppers to lace up the sneakers.
"Since the day it got canceled at the state tournament, I know we all have been wanting to get back together and play the sport we all love," said senior Gianna Kneepkens.
A shortened season that will see players wearing masks, and no spectators at practices, including sports reporters.
"It is a little bit harder but we are getting used to it. We would rather play with masks than not play at all so it is something that comes with it," said Kneepkens.
And despite losing Grace Kirk to graduation, Marshall will be a force to be reckoned with.
"Having Gianna, Merlea, Dasia, Laila, the four that's really been playing with me the last two years helps too because they can help these young girls get used to me, get used to my coaching style," said Osuchukwu.
And they know all too well after last year, that this year they can't take anything for granted.
It's just going to be super exciting for the whole team, coach, even the whole community, it's exciting that sports are getting going again in a safe matter," said Kneepkens.
The Duluth Marshall girls basketball team opens up the season next Thursday when they travel to rival Duluth Denfeld at. 7 p.m.