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Vorwald nearly sets state record with 22 assists

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WORTHINGTON -- The first time Worthington's Mike Vorwald touched the ball in Saturday's game, he committed a turnover.

After that, Vorwald played nearly flawless.

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The senior point guard set a new career high and nearly a state record with 22 assists in Worthington's 82-50 victory against New Ulm.

"I'm glad we got a win," Vorwald said. "I didn't even know I had 22, it's just fun when everybody gets to play. We had like 10 guys score."

Junior Travis Meinders led the scoring ensemble with 26 points, while Aduo Omot had 12 and Derek Busswitz had 11.

"Travis was hitting everything," Vorwald said. "Aduo was playing hard. Everybody else was making shots. It's easy when you have guys on the team like (Jalen Voss) and Aduo."

It's the unselfish attitude that Worthington head coach Ron Vorwald likes in the point guard.

"He's the first one to give credit to his teammates for finishing the shots he created for them," Ron said. "You don't get an assist unless someone is making the shots.

"Travis was lighting it up ,and the posts did a good job of finishing and being ready to catch the ball and finish in traffic."

According to the Minnesota State High School League, the current record for assists in a game was 26, set by Scott Kenneth Ginn of Meadow Creek Christian, Andover in 2003.

Wabasso's Brent Baune had 23 assists in a game in 2002, leaving Vorwald's as the third-best game in history.

"I knew he had quite a few," Ron said. "I glanced at the stats at halftime and he had 12 at half. Then he didn't play the last seven minutes of the game because we had a running clock. He could have had another half-dozen more. I knew he was having a good day passing the ball; we didn't have to run a great deal of offense, we just let him create."

And create he did.

But not for himself.

Mike scored a mere four points -- a season low -- on one 3-pointer and a free throw.

"I couldn't shoot the ball, so I had to pass it off every time," Mike said. "I made one shot, and I don't know how many I took -- too many. I was 1-for-2 from the line."

The last time Vorwald visited the New Ulm gym was his sophomore season, when he enjoyed his experience.

"I usually like that gym," Mike said. "The last game I played there when I was a sophomore I had a pretty good game."

Vorwald scored 17 points and had six assists to lead the Trojans to an 81-61 victory in February 2007.

This season, the stats were turned.

With the Trojans in control late in the game, Vorwald took a seat and didn't see the floor in the final six minutes.

"I just came out of the game with six minutes left and I was sitting there," Vorwald said. "Then someone told me that I had 22. I said, '22 points? No, I had like four.'"

Mike was astonished to find out he had 22 assists.

"I haven't even scored 22 points in a game yet this year," Vorwald said. "I've gotten 20 and a couple of 18s, but I haven't gotten past 20 points in a game this year."

On the season, Vorwald is averaging 13.4 points per game and is a 41-percent shooter from the floor.

"This particular night, he didn't shoot the ball real well, so he just stopped shooting," Ron said. "He kept penetrating and finding teammates.

"I'm not worried about his shooting. He's been shooting the ball well for us all year. We had other guys that were stroking it that particular night. That's the great thing about basketball, you have teammates, and other guys have a tendency to pick it up."

With shooters like Meinders, Omot and Matt King, the point guard's job is an easy one.

"It's always been great," Mike said. "Coming up through fifth grade when we all started, we won tournaments back then. They are just fun to play with. Everybody on our team can put it in the hole."

In 13 games this season, Vorwald has dished out 112 assists (8.6 per game), bringing his career total to 367 -- second all-time.

With his 22 assists, Vorwald increased his average from 7.5 to 8.6 per game.

"He just happened to go off this particular game where he found a lot of guys open," Ron said. "He's typically been averaging between 8, 10 or 12 assists all year long -- 22 helps your average a little bit."

Marty Jorgenson holds the school record with 516 assists, and holds the single-season record with 224, set in the 1965-66 season.

Vorwald would need 150 more assists to surpass Jorgenson's career record and 112 this season to tie the single-season record.

But while his assists have gone up each season, his turnovers have remained low.

With an assist-to-turnover ratio of more than 4-to-1 (112 assists to 27 turnovers), Mike has been able to pass while still protecting the ball.

"I think that's another key for Mike, too," Ron said. "If you look at his assists-to-turnover ratio, it's pretty good. If he was turning it over at an alarming rate, then certainly I'd be concerned with him forcing things."

Even though Vorwald didn't force things Saturday, it wasn't to say he didn't have some eye-popping plays.

"On a fast break he had a pretty nice no-look pass," Busswitz said. "He had one where he was going to shoot it and then he passed it to me down low. It was pretty nice."

For Mike, a play as time was winding down in the first half is what sticks in his mind.

"There was one that showed our hustle and our effort at this point in the game at the end of the first half," Vorwald said. "There was a long 3 ball that got tipped up high and someone tipped it back up and we tipped it out of their hand and it was getting tipped around. I just grabbed it and threw it to Travis and he drilled a 3."

While both Mike and Busswitz have assists that they will remember, the story is different for the coach.

"I've gotten used to it; he spoils you," Ron said. "He'll find guys where I don't see them. He just has a knack; he's instinctive. He has an awareness, he knows where guys are at, he sees them and he's very good at delivering the basketball on a pace where they can catch it."

With St. James visiting Worthington Thursday and the Trojans looking to avenge one of their two losses Friday when Redwood Valley comes to town, how could Vorwald improve on his performance?

"With a 'W' I hope," Mike said. "We hope to get a conference title this year. We need one; we haven't had one since 2002. We need this one to get it."

For more on last week's outstanding performances, games and upsets, see "Under the Lights," the Daily Globe sports blog at www.dglobe.com.

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