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TROJAN BOYS BASKETBALL: WHS guard hits buzzer-beating 3-pointer to shock MCW

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WINDOM -- Marcus Potter's buzzer-beating 3-pointer capped an incredible second-half comeback for third-seeded Worthington Thursday night, as the Trojans rallied to claim an unbelievable 62-59 victory over the second-seeded Martin County West Mavericks in the second round of the Section 3AA South boys' basketball tournament.

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Worthington trailed 37-20 late in the first half and was still down by double-digits (50-39) with seven minutes remaining in the second half, but the Trojans gradually cut into MCW's lead and pulled closer on the scoreboard.

Josh Vander Veen buried a couple of key 3-pointers and drew a charge on the defensive end to give the Trojans a spark, while Jon Vorwald tied things up with a deep right-wing 3-pointer with 36 seconds left, and then after a couple of timeouts and a frantic scramble after a turnover, he passed to Potter for the game-winning shot right as time expired.

Worthington (17-8) advances to the sub-section championship game, as it will take on top-seeded and state-ranked Fairmont (22-5) -- a 65-56 winner over fourth-seeded Jackson County Central Thursday -- at Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall Saturday at 8 p.m.

"We get to have practice tomorrow (today), that's all that matters at this time of the year," Worthington head coach Ron Vorwald said. "Our guys responded well in the second half and found a way to keep fighting back. We dug in on defense and had guys make big plays and key shots -- I'm proud of them."

MCW, which ends its season with a fine record of 20-6, put on an offensive clinic for most of the first half and used an impressive 14-0 run to take command. Great spacing and ball movement helped the Mavericks open up a 37-20 lead before taking a 37-23 cushion into the locker room.

"We played just a great first half, and I'm really proud of my team," MCW head coach Cliff Anderson said. "Give Worthington credit, as they stepped up in the second half and ended up making a few more plays than us. It was a great game and an exciting finish that unfortunately didn't go our way."

MCW's Austin Krumwiede scored 12 of his game-high 20 points in the first half, as the Mavericks scored in a variety of ways and turned an early 8-2 deficit into a 16-8 lead with 9:53 remaining. A 3-point play off a steal and coast-to-coast drive by the speedy Mitchell Sitzmann (six points) capped a 14-0 burst for MCW.

With Krumwiede and Kyle Brolsma (10 points) working for points inside, Cordell Weber (11 points) and Jake Faber (10 points) did their part by knocking down shots from the perimeter to help the Mavericks stretch their lead to 37-20 with 1:00 showing on the clock.

Superior team defense was also an important factor for MCW in taking that 17-point advantage, which was trimmed to 14 (37-23) when Vorwald (nine points, eight assists) connected on a long 3-pointer at the buzzer -- the first of two for the Trojans.

Worthington then started the second half on a 13-3 surge to pull within four (40-36) at the 11:43 mark, as the Trojans' Morgan Traylor (17 points, 11 rebounds and five shot blocks) got the ball in good position inside and started to score in bunches.

A tremendous hustle play by Will Dudley (eight points, five steals) -- who tracked down a loose ball along the sideline, went in for a reverse layup and added the free throw (3-point play) -- and a 3-pointer by Spencer Grafing (eight points) were also a part of that 10-point swing and helped set the stage for the remaining action.

However, the Mavericks answered with a 10-3 run to push their lead to 50-39 with 8:11 to go. A 3-pointer in the right corner by Weber and a 3-point play inside by Krumwiede triggered that spurt for MCW.

An offensive-rebound basket by Traylor and a mid-range jumper along the baseline by Vander Veen made it 50-43 before Weber countered with a 15-footer to give MCW a 52-43 lead at the 6:17 mark.

Vander Veen (10 points) then buried a pair of 3-pointers to offset a putback basket by Faber, as Worthington pulled to within five (54-49) with 4:53 left.

MCW led 56-50 after Jordan Ebeling came off the bench and scored a big basket in the lane with 3:16 remaining, but Dudley sliced inside for a hoop and then Vander Veen drew a charge for Worthington.

Two free throws by Traylor with 2:24 to play trimmed the gap to two (56-54) -- the closest Worthington was since the 11:57 mark of the first half.

Krumwiede countered with a driving basket to make it 58-54 Mavericks before Potter (10 points, three steals) came right down and scored on a drive of his own to again cut the lead to two (58-56) with 1:31 remaining.

Sitzmann hit one-of-two free throws six seconds later to put MCW up 59-56, and the Mavericks got a stop after Worthington missed a close-range shot at the one-minute mark.

However, MCW missed the front end of an ensuing one-and-one opportunity at the free-throw line -- leaving the door open for Worthington to tie the score on the next possession.

Vorwald drilled a long, well-contested 3-pointer from the right wing with 36 seconds left to make the score 59-59 -- which it remained until the clock struck zero.

MCW had the ball and used a pair of timeouts -- one with 19.7 seconds left and another with 7.3 seconds showing -- in an attempt to set up a last-second shot.

But a sideline out-of-bounds pass from near halfcourt was stolen by Traylor, who quickly got the ball to Will Mulder as Worthington looked to score in rapid fashion after a sudden change of events.

The Trojans didn't call a timeout, as Mulder passed to Vorwald with time ticking off the clock. Vorwald was well-covered at the top of the key and had to pass to Potter, who was open on the left wing beyond the 3-point arc.

Potter launched a shot almost simultaneously as the buzzer sounded and the ball swished through the net -- giving Worthington a stunning 62-59 win.

The officials counted the shot right away and then got together to discuss if the ball left Potter's hands before time expired. The 3-pointer was confirmed and gave the Trojans a thrilling come-from-behind victory.

"It all happened pretty fast," Potter said. "Morgan got the steal and Jon ended up finding me open on the left wing. It was a scramble and I knew time was almost out, so I just fired up a shot and it went in."

Coach Vorwald credited Worthington's improved defensive play as a big part of the second-half rally.

"We played much better defense in the second half and made MCW work for their points," Vorwald said. "We got some big stops and we also took care of the ball better, only turning it over twice in the second half (after nine in the first half). We kept our poise and chipped away until the end."

WORTHINGTON 62,

MARTIN COUNTY WEST 59

WORTHINGTON (17-8): Vorwald 3 0-0 9, Vander Veen 4 0-0 10, Dudley 3 2-3 8, Potter 4 0-0 10, M. Traylor 7 3-6 17, Grafing 3 0-1 8. Totals: 24 5-10 62.

MARTIN COUNTY WEST (20-6): Brolsma 5 0-0 10, Sitzmann 2 2-4 6, Weber 4 1-2 11, Faber 4 1-1 10, Krumwiede 9 2-4 20, Ebeling 1 0-0 2. Totals: 25 6-11 59.

Worthington 23 39 -- 62

Martin County West 37 22 -- 59

3-Point Goals: Worthington 9 (Vorwald 3, Vander Veen 2, Potter 2, Grafing 2); Martin County West 3 (Weber 2, Faber). Turnovers: Worthington 11, Martin County West 11.

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