WHS Boys Basketball: Weg hits game winner
LUVERNE -- With the game tied at 59 with just 10 seconds left on the clock and the ball in their possession, the Trojans boys' basketball team called a timeout to attempt to finish the game in regulation.
Once the game was resumed, Worthington got the ball into senior leader Mitch Weg's hands and he took a shot, watching the ball fall through the rim as the buzzer sounded.
The Worthington bench cleared as the Trojans' celebrated their 61-59 Southwest conference victory over Luverne Tuesday night.
And the team was all smiles as they headed toward the locker rooms.
"We called a timeout and got the play we wanted--pump fake middle--and I honestly thought it wasn't going to get off in time, but luckily it went in," Weg said. "This is a great win for the team. Having the will to win throughout the whole game is something we can really take from this."
Weg was the key to the final seconds of play. With 13 seconds left in the game, the 6-foot-8-inch center blocked what would've been the Cardinals' go-ahead shot. After Worthington's timeout the Trojans got the ball in Weg's hands and the center was able to end the game without going into overtime.
The center finished the game with 28 points.
"All I was thinking was 'just hurry up and get a shot off,'" Weg said. "I thought that it wouldn't have been terrible to go into overtime, but at least get a shot off and give us a chance. Coach drew up a great play and it worked. I'm very excited about that."
Sophomore Spencer Grafing added nine points for the Trojans.
Worthington (3-0) had an 11 point lead (47-36) with 11 minutes left in the game.
However, the Cardinals went on a 17-5 run over the next seven minutes to go ahead 53-52 with four minutes left.
"It was tough. It's always tough to see a lead like that go down especially in a conference game when you need to win it," Weg said. "We fought through it and it's great to get a win."
Immediately following that run, it was clear to see the Trojans' frustration was rising. But following a technical foul - and after a timeout and a pep talk from head coach Ron Vorwald - Worthington was able to tie the game at 56-apiece on a Weg bucket with 1 minute, 45 seconds left to play.
Luverne's Devin Heitkamp and Worthington's Henning hit back-to-back 3-pointers to make it a 59-all tie with under a minute in the game. And from there, Weg took over.
"It was a battle the whole way," Vorwald said. "The minute we got a little bit of a cushion they made a nice run and got it back in there. To our guys credit they found a way to get it done.
"We're happy campers. Both teams played hard and we're just fortunate enough to come out with a win. We're fortunate enough to have gotten the last possession, to be honest."
Despite having an eight point lead at halftime (35-27) and the 11 point lead entering the final quarter of play, Worthington ran into some foul trouble late in the game.
By the end of the game, Luverne went to the free-throw line 13 times and recorded 20 points from foul shots. That is in comparison to the four times the Trojans went to the line and the two points they recorded from those attempts.
"Defensively I thought we played fairly well. Sure, we got in some foul trouble, but we have to adjust as the officials call the game," Vorwald said. "They weren't letting you get away with much of anything. We have to learn to adjust and learn to keep our mouths shut when they make a bad call. But we won the game, that's the most important thing."
The Cardinals (2-2) were led by their guards Brandon Klein, who had 23 points, and Brett Heronimus, who had 14.
With that kind of offensive pressure and a team that wouldn't back down despite a large defecit, Worthington's biggest lesson from Tuesday's game is that the boys can win close battles, Vorwald said.
Both Vorwald and Weg think this win will be a big confidence-booster for Worthington, but they also realize there is still plenty to improve upon.
"Defensively and offensively we weren't playing how we should and they got back in the game because they're a good team and we were stumbling," Weg said. "We were lucky to pull away with the win at the end. That's a really good learning process for us."
Worthington's next game is Friday at Marshall. Luverne plays Thursday at home against Edgerton.
WHS 35 26 61
Luverne 27 32 59
WHS (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) Weg 0-13-2-28, Vorwald 2-0-0-6, Grafing 1-3-0-9, Reller 0-2-0-4, Henning 2-0-0-6, Potter 0-2-0-4, Traylor 0-2-0-4. Total 5-22-2-61.
Luverne (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) Klein 4-2-7-23, Heitkamp 2-0-2-8, Heronimus 0-4-6-14, Weis 0-1-1-3, Overgaard 0-0-1-1, Slieter 0-0-1-1, Arends 0-1-2-4, Raddle 1-1-0-5. Total 7-9-20-59.