Trojans power past Cards
WORTHINGTON -- With nearly half of her team's first-half points, Alyssa Smith finished with 23 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Worthington girls' basketball team to a 74-59 victory over Fairmont Tuesday.
"I felt like I couldn't miss," Smith said. "I felt like everything was working and that everybody was helping me out."
Smith scored 15 points in the first half as the Trojans (3-0) had a 32-25 lead at half.
"When you talk about offense, you first have to talk about Smith," Worthington head coach Eric Lindner said. "She's a kid that's undersized, but she works hard. She's a tough kid in the post, and our players did a good job of getting her the ball in an area where she could score."
After a slow start, Holli Aggen finished with 15 points, while Gabby Boever was the other Trojan in double figures with 19.
"It's nice to see that we can have different leading scorers, and that it's not just one person, so teams have to defend us," Smith said.
After struggling defensively against low-post players in the first two games this season, Worthington was able to subdue a taller Fairmont (0-3) team.
"I thought that our defense was excellent tonight. I thought we did a very good job of playing front side and help side defense," Lindner said. "I thought that overall, our perimeter defense was a little suspect, especially on (Sam) Waletich. We gave her too many looks, but we held their post player under 10 tonight, which was our goal."
Waletich scored a team-high 17 points, which Ashley Alleven scored 10.
"We knew that the Waletich girl was going to get her points," Lindner said. "She's able to penetrate and hit the open shot, but we left her open a little too much there."
Worthington took a 32-25 lead into halftime, but a stifling defense to start the second half broke the game open.
Sarah Boever (seven points, four steals) started the scoring in the second half, followed by a basket by Smith after an offensive rebound.
Gabby Boever hit consecutive jumpers, while Aggen nailed a 3-pointer from the wing as the Trojans were off and running.
The Cardinals scored only one field goal in the first eight-and-a-half minutes as Worthington used an 11-5 run to take a 43-30 lead.
"You're going to find that a lot with teams that we play," Lindner said of the run to start the second half. "The tempo that we play, you can usually maintain that for a half, but after the half, I really thought that our pressure got to them."
Waletich answered with seven consecutive points for Fairmont, but another basket by Smith and a three from Aggen maintained the Trojan lead.
Later in the game, a three and layup from Gabby Boever increased Worthington's lead to 19. However, that would be the largest lead of the night, as the Trojans went on to a 74-59 victory.
"We did a nice job in the first half of exchanging goals with a very good Worthington team," Fairmont head coach Patti Strukel said. "It had the look of two good, strong teams out there early in the season. We turned the ball over more than we wanted to."
Fairmont committed 31 turnovers in the game, compared to 23 for Worthington.
"The difference is that we didn't outscore somebody to just outscore somebody," Lindner said. "We played both offense and defense, and that's what we're going to need to do."
Worthington started the game in a hole, as Waletich and Ariel Berhow (nine points) scored consecutive baskets to give Fairmont an early lead.
However, a three from Aggen and a basket from Smith gave Worthington its first lead of the night.
In a span where Smith scored nine of the Trojan's 11 points, Worthington took a two-point deficit and turned it into a three-point advantage. From that point on, the Trojans never trailed again.
Fairmont made just two of seven free throw attempts in the final three minutes as Worthington had a 32-25 lead at half.
Fairmont will face New Ulm Friday, while Worthington will be at home on Thursday against Redwood Valley. Game time will be at 7:30 for the Trojans' Southwest Conference opener.
Fairmont 25 34 -- 59
Worthington 32 42 -- 74
Fairmont (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) Waletich 2-3-5-17, Niss 1-3-0-9, Steuber 0-1-2-4, Berhow 0-4-1-9, Barnes 0-1-4-6, Brolsma 0-2-0-4, Alleven 0-3-4-10. Totals 3-17-16-59.
Worthington (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) S. Boever 1-2-0-7, Aggen 4-1-1-15, G. Boever 3-4-2-19, Pavelko 0-3-0-6, Gerber 0-0-1-1, Smith 0-9-5-23, Boomgarden 1-0-0-3. Totals 9-19-9-74.