WORTHINGTON — Capitalizing on the effectiveness of its full-court pressuring defensive tactics Saturday afternoon, the well-balanced Worthington Trojans took command early in a non-conference high school girls’ basketball game at the WHS gymnasium and claimed a convincing 77-51 victory over Section 2AAA opponent New Ulm.
The Eagles, who have posted recent wins over St. James (46-27, Jan. 30) and Lake Crystal/Wellcome Memorial (51-32, Feb. 11), were no match for a Worthington squad which came up with 17 steals in the contest and had eight players combine for 51 first-half points.
“We were able to get several easy transition baskets off of steals from our press,” exclaimed Trojans’ head coach Eric Lindner. “Then, after we stopped dribbling and passed the ball better, we were able to get lots of good inside-out movement in our half-court offense — which allowed us to hit some nice perimeter shots.”
WHS junior forward Ana Boever drilled a pair of NBA-range treys in the early going as the Trojans continually expanded their lead. The always-aggressive Boever scored 14 of her game-high 20 points in the first half.
With the score more than doubled at intermission, 51-24, the Trojan starters played only briefly in the second half as Lindner experimented with different combinations and utilized the entire team.
By game’s end, the Trojans — who had only 12 turnovers in the whole contest — shared the ball for a total of 19 assists, blocked four shots and earned a slight 26-24 rebounding edge.
In addition to those 17 steals. New Ulm, by contrast, had just four steals and the Eagles lost possession 25 times on turnovers.
“We were able to get lots of girls plenty of court time and they all contributed,” praised Lindner. “We really did a good of defending inside the arc, taking away New Ulm’s inside game very well.”
The Eagles (4-18 overall, 0-5 vs. section opponents) did make seven three-point shots — spread among four players — but scored only 11 two-point baskets the entire 36 minutes.
Saturday was the final home game of the regular season for the Trojans, who improved to 18-2 overall.
The triumph was the team’s first win of the campaign against a Section 2AAA rival, as Marshall (which has given WHS its only two losses) is the only other section foe which Worthington has faced this winter.
The Trojans will play another section opponent this week when they tangle with the Willmar Cardinals (9-12, 3-2) Friday night in Willmar.
“That game is going to be important for us as far as the section seedings are concerned,” noted Lindner. “We need to win at Willmar.”
The Trojans, who are 8-2 in the Southwest Conference, also have two away games left in the league. They play at Jackson County Central Monday and at Redwood Valley Feb. 24.
RV is 14-7 overall and currently in third place in the Southwest (7-3), just a game behind the second-place Trojans.
In addition to her 20 points Saturday, Boever snagged six rebounds and had a team-high six steals.
Brooke Henning (14 points), Apiew Alwal (10 points), Abbie Landgaard (nine points, five rebounds, four assists) and Paige Gravenhof (four assists) were Worthington’s other statistical leaders.
“With so many girls playing a lot of minutes, the stats were really spread out,” concluded Lindner. “We just had a nice balanced team performance.”
New Ulm 24 51
Worthington 51 77
NEW ULM (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) Reinhart 1-1-0-5, Bolduan 2-0-0-6, Dittrich 0-4-0-8, Sieve 0-1-0-2, Schneider 0-3-0-6, Ahlness 1-2-2-9, Anderson 3-1-4-15. Totals 7-11-8-51.
WORTHINGTON (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) Boever 4-3-2-20, Ebbers 0-1-1-3, Landgaard 0-3-3-9, Henning 0-5-4-14, Bruns 1-0-0-3, Gerber 0-3-0-6, Linder 0-2-0-4, Gravenhof 1-2-0-7, Ac. Alwal 0-0-1-1, Ap. Alwal 0-4-2-10. Totals 6-23-13-77.