Trojans squeak by Dragons, 54-52
WORTHINGTON -- Kent Knutson's three-point play with 1.4 seconds remaining Tuesday night lifted the Worthington Trojans to a 54-52 victory over the Adrian Dragons in a non-conference boys' basketball game.
Knutson's basket and free throw capped a late-game rally for the Trojans, who trailed for most of the game's final nine minutes.
"We struggled tonight, but it was huge to get the victory," Worthington head coach Ron Vorwald said afterwards. "We worked harder defensively down the stretch and executed well on that final play."
Adrian, which was coming off an impressive 86-45 victory over Minneota last Friday, gained control in the second half on the perimeter shooting of sophomore Brian Tjepkes -- who scored a game-high 20 points -- and key baskets from Danny Parsley, Brett Oertli and Nathan Reyne.
After Worthington's Mike Vorwald (eight points, seven assists) found Adou Omot for a layup with an over-the-top pass on the break to give the Trojans a 33-30 lead, Adrian went on an 8-0 surge to take a 38-33 advantage with 7:35 to play in the second half.
Tjepkes fired in a deep three-pointer from the top of the key to start the run before he later made a free throw. Reyne scored the next four points for the Dragons on a runner along the left baseline and a pair of free throws.
Worthington responded with six consecutive points, as Vorwald and Joe Ahrens (10 rebounds, seven points) keyed the Trojans to a 39-38 lead with just under six minutes left.
Vorwald fed Ahrens with a quick chest pass in transition and a bounce pass on the low block for a pair of layups for the book-end points in the burst.
In-between those two connections, Vorwald converted on a nifty steal and layup -- using his ball-side hand (left) to come up with the theft before utilizing a behind-the-back dribble to score -- and Ahrens drew a charge on the defensive end to spark the Trojans.
Tjepkes answered with another trey before Jordan Kontz found Parsley under the hoop for a layup, and Oertli (12 points) scored after grabbing an offensive rebound -- helping the Dragons regain a 45-41 lead with 3:34 to go.
Adrian later held a 51-48 lead following a pair of free throws from Justin Weidert with 1:17 left. Worthington, though, tied the game when Travis Meinders (13 points) drained a three-pointer from out top just 13 seconds later.
The Trojans got the ball back following a turnover by the Dragons, but Tjepkes came up with a steal and was fouled on his way to the hoop with 26.4 seconds showing on the clock.
Tjepkes (8-for-13 from the line for the game) made one-of-two free throws to give the Dragons a 52-51 edge -- setting up the Trojans' final possession.
Worthington took a pair of timeouts with 7.6 seconds left before Adrian used one of its own. Vorwald received the ball out top, used a screen from Ahrens and drove down the left side of the lane -- drawing a crowd of defenders before slipping a pass over to Knutson on the right block for the game-winner with 1.4 seconds remaining.
Knutson (15 points, nine rebounds) was fouled on the play and made the ensuing free throw to give Worthington a 54-52 lead. Parsley then missed a desperation heave from near mid-court to end the game.
The game started with Adrian scoring the first five points on a pair of free throws from Oertli and a three-pointer by Parsley.
Worthington came back to tie it at 5-5 with 13:39 left on a Matt King 18-foot jumper and a Meinders three-pointer.
Worthington later built a 16-11 advantage, as Knutson scored four baskets -- two putbacks, an 18-footer and a layup off an assist from Meinders -- and Omot scored off a drive-and-dish by Vorwald to fuel Worthington on an 11-6 run.
Adrian answered by outscoring the Trojans 10-5 over the final 5:52 of the half -- sending the teams into the locker rooms tied at 21-apiece.
Oertli, a 6-7 senior post, asserted himself inside by scoring a pair of buckets during that span, while Tjepkes made four three throws (including all three after being fouled behind the arc), and Reyne knocked down an 18-footer from the top of the key to ignite the Dragons.
"Adrian played very well, as they were patient offensively and rebounded well," Vorwald said. "Tjepkes was dangerous from the perimeter, Oertli was a force inside for them, and they played good team defense."
Adrian, which crashed the boards for 13 offensive rebounds, opened the second half on a 7-3 run, getting baskets from Oertli and Weidert, and a three-pointer from Tjepkes to build a 28-24 lead.
Worthington scored nine of the game's next 11 points to take its 33-30 lead. A strong offensive-rebound basket by Ahrens highlighted the 9-2 run, which preceded the late-game action.
"We had chances the whole second half and down the stretch to win the game, but Worthington did a nice job to pull it out," Adrian head coach Chris Rozell said. "It was nice to play right with a team like the Trojans, but we sure would've liked to get that victory."
Worthington (1-1) hosts Windom Friday as part of a girl-boy doubleheader, which begins at 6 p.m. with the girls' game. Adrian (1-1) hosts ML/B-O Friday.
Adrian 21 31 -- 52
Worthington 21 33 -- 54
ADRIAN (3PT-2PT-FT-TP): Kontz 0-0-2-2, Tjepkes 4-0-8-20, Parsley 1-1-1-6, Weidert 0-1-2-4, Oertli 0-4-4-12, Reyne 0-2-4-8. Totals: 5-8-21-52.
WORTHINGTON (3PT-2PT-FT-TP): Vorwald 0-3-2-8, Meinders 3-1-2-13, Omot 1-2-0-7, Knutson 0-5-5-15, King 0-1-0-2, Soderholm 0-1-0-2, Ahrens 0-3-1-7. Totals: 4-16-10-54.