Boys basketball: Willmar beats Worthington, 84-76
WORTHINGTON —Fighting from a sizable deficit through most of the game, the Worthington Trojans boys basketball squad came up a little bit short Saturday night against a talented Willmar Cardinals opponent, 84-76.
But it was a fight for four quarters. And that was something that Trojans head coach Jared Keaveny took to heart.
The team has taken a step forward, Keaveny said. Early in the season, the Trojans might have wilted after trailing by so many points for so long.
“We’re a lot more mentally tough,” said the coach.
Willmar moved to 12-5 on the season on Meet the Trojans Night while dropping Worthington to 5-9. The taller Cardinals displayed their strength inside to take a 5-0 lead at the initial stage, then led 9-2 before Worthington responded.
A Spencer Grafing three-point shot produced Worthington’s only lead of the game, 17-15. But Willmar, on a pair of threes by 6-6 senior center Adam Nibaur, moved back out in front 43-30 before settling into a 44-32 halftime advantage.
Leading by 10 or more points through most of the second half, the Cardinals were unable to shake the home-standing Trojans. A three-point shot at 2:01 by Will Mulder finally brought Worthington inside 10 at 76-68. At 1:07 two Marcus Potter free throws made it 78-71.
Worthington certainly had its share of runs, both offensively and defensively. It just didn’t have enough of them.
“I thought we just had some spurts where we just fell asleep. Good teams are going to make us pay for that,” said Keaveny, who then responded to a question about the team’s defensive pressure — which led to several turnovers and Worthington possessions on loose or contested balls.
“We’ve shown that when we commit ourselves to playing defense, that’s when we’re really good,” Keaveny said.
Potter led the Trojans with 21 points and Mulder had all 18 of his points in the second half — with four three-point connections. Oliver Wolyniec scored 12 points, Grafing 11 and Will Dudley 10.
Nibaur tallied 20 points for Willmar, with 16 of those coming in the first half. Point guard Joel Carter scored all 20 of his points in the second half and was 10-for-10 from the free throw line. Kyler Johnson had 16 points, Tyler Stegeman 12 and Austin Grove 10.
Dudley paced Worthington with six steals and four rebounds. Wolyniec also had four rebounds. Grafing and Potter had two assists apiece and Brandon Gray had two blocks.
Worthington won the B squad game, 46-45.
Willmar 44 84
Worthington 32 76
WILLMAR (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) — Stegeman 0-6-0-12, Carter 0-5-10-20, Johnson 1-2-9-16, Nibaur 4-4-1-20, Grove 0-4-2-10, Holtz 0-2-1-5. Totals 5-23-23-84.
WORTHINGTON (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) — Miller 0-1-0-2, Dudley 0-4-2-10, Grafing 1-4-0-11, Potter 1-5-8-21, Mulder 4-2-2-18, Wolyniec 0-6-0-12, Lindner 0-1-0-2, Weg 0-0-0-0, Guerra 0-0-0-0, Gray 0-0-0-0. Totals 6-23-12-76.