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Boys basketball: Sibley East takes third with tale of two halves against Trojans

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WORTHINGTON — Sibley East put together a solid defensive effort through the beginning of the second half and settled down to silence Worthington in a boys basketball game for third place in the 16th annual Daily Globe-Trojan Holiday Classic at WHS.

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The Wolverines had fallen hard to Perham the night before, in the first round of the tournament, but came back for the 77-72 triumph over the homestanding Trojans early Saturday evening.

“I thought our second-half focus was a whole lot better than our first half focus,” Sibley East coach Daniel Meier said. “In the first half we were kind of trying to identify what we wanted to identify, but a little late. We’ve been preaching hard work, and I love when the kids get rewarded for working hard through mistakes.”

Worthington controlled its up-tempo game through the first half as pressure on the defensive end led to easy shots and trips to the free throw line on the offensive side. The Trojans were 11-of-13 from the charity stripe in the first half, but ended up as the team giving up those shots after the break.

“We struggle with having energy consistently. We really seem to struggle to work hard when things aren’t going our way,” Worthington head coach Jared Keaveny said. “We have to learn to fight through those tough times and need to get back to some basics in practice.”

A deciding factor was that the Wolverines, a strong shooting team from the free throw line, attempted 37 foul shots on the night and made 31 of them. Fouls pilled up for Worthington as Will Dudley, Will Mulder, Carter Lindner and Logan Thuringer all fouled out of the game.

Dudley, Mulder and Lindner all were contributors in peicing together a first half that the Trojans led for the majority of the way. Senior guards Marcus Potter and Spencer Grafing also scored to help Worthington cling to its eight point halftime lead.

Sibley East senior Darin Neisen connected twice from long-range in the beginning of the second half and that sparked the decisive turn of events for the Wolverines. East outscored Worthington 40-27 out of the locker room in helping to secure the win.

“When things went well, we had energy. Our offense was a lot better in the first half. In the second half, we had a lot of guys going off on their own,” Keaveny said. “Our offense is a motion offense that is based on passing and sharing the ball. We fell apart and didn’t see that.”

Brady Rodning, a senior guard for the Wolverines, finished the game with 27 points, 18 of which came from a perfect night at the free throw line. Ten of those came in the second half. Four of Neisen’s half-dozen three-pointers also came after the intermission.

“Our free throws were just falling and we were doing well. We shoot a lot of free throws in practice and work on them a lot,” Rodning said after the game. “They’re a huge asset to the game.”

Ben White, also a senior for the Wolverines, finished with just four points, but all four came from the free throw line and three were in the second half. Sibley East preaches a ‘team’ approach on both ends of the floor, and the eight players who scored for the team exemplified that, he thought after the game.

“I really think our team stepped up defensively in the second half. We only played six kids in the second half and were all tired after the game because we were hustling so much,” White said. “We really passed the ball around well tonight and looked for the open guy.”

The Trojans, with their setback and fourth place finish in this year’s tournament, enter the 2014 portion of their schedule at 3-5. Worthington will travel to Jackson County Central on Tuesday, Jan. 7. Four players scored in double figures for Worthington on Saturday including Dudley (17), Grafing (15), Potter (14) and Lindner (13).

“We’re fouling way too much and a lot of them are silly fouls because we’re out of position and so we have to do that stuff,” Keaveny said. “We put them on the line for 37 shots. You’re not going to win very many games doing that. We’ll have a few practices here (before we play again) and just have to get back to work.”

Sibley East, on the other hand, takes a record of 4-6 into the New Year. The team knows they are a work in progress, but they are improving. They will now prepare for a trip Friday to Glencoe-Silver Lake.

“I was happy with how we played and how hard we worked. Everybody played together,” Cordell Bates, a senior post player for the Wolverines said. “Being down at halftime, we got fired up and wanted to step it up on defense a bit.”

Sibley East 37 77

Worthington 45 72

SIBLEY EAST (3PT-2PT-FT-TP) —Rodning 1-3-18-27, Neisen 0-6-2-20, A. Bullert 0-4-3-11, Weber 1-2-2-9, White 0-0-4-4, L. Bullert 0-1-0-2, Garza 0-0-2-2, Bates 0-1-0-2. Totals 8-11-31-77

WORTHINGTON (3PT-2PT-FT-TP) —Dudley 0-7-3-17, Grafing 3-2-2-15, Potter 0-5-4-14, Lindner 0-6-1-13, Weg 0-2-2-6, Mulder 0-1-3-5, Thuringer 0-1-0-2. Totals 3-24-15-72.

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Caleb Nelson
Caleb Nelson is the Daily Globe sports writer. He hails from southwest Iowa and served as sports editor at the Audubon County Advocate Journal there for 2 ½ years before moving to Worthington in October 2013. Caleb trys to enjoy life and everybody that he meets. He enjoys music, playing guitar and drums, and is an avid sports fan. 
(507) 376-7335
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