WHS GIRLS' BASKETBALL: Trojans soar past EaglesWORTHINGTON — As Mackenzie Gerber said after the game, the contest between the Worthington girls’ basketball team and Southwest Christian on Monday was almost like a “game of mystery.”
WORTHINGTON — As Mackenzie Gerber said after the game, the contest between the Worthington girls’ basketball team and Southwest Christian on Monday was almost like a “game of mystery.”
The two teams haven’t played each other in the regular season in quite some time, long enough that none of the two team’s current players have ever faced each other.
But the unusual opponent didn’t take advantage of the Trojans, as WHS came out of Monday’s game with an 82-72 victory.
“This is the first time we’ve ever played them, so we didn’t really know what they’d bring to the table,” WHS center Kristen Andersen said. “We didn’t know anything about them, so whatever came, we just had to deal with it then. That part of the game was pretty nerve-racking. You weren’t really anticipating everything though and freaking out over that, so that part was nice.”
The contest was fairly close at the half, with the Trojans leading 42-36.
But the Eagles came back after the break, quickly tying the score at 46-46 with 14 minutes left to play.
Gerber admitted she was a little nervous then, saying that she was “freaking out at that point because I thought we were going to lose the game.”
However, WHS pulled away immediately. The Trojans went on a 12-0 run over the next two minutes to make the score 58-46.
“That was the turning point in the game,” WHS head coach Eric Lindner said. “Southwest Christian was trying to overplay and sometimes when you do that you give up easy baskets. But we were aggressive and maintained our intensity throughout. And we kept our focus, which were all the right things to do and contributed to the W tonight.”
But the Eagles didn’t back down. Three minutes later, with nine minutes left in regulation, SWC brought the score within three (62-59) on a Michaela Zeinstra free throw. They maintained the three-point defecit for four more minutes before WHS started widening the gap again.
The Trojans went on a 10-4 run over the next four minutes to make the score 76-67 with 2:08 left.
SWC’s Megan DeRuyter hit a 3-pointer with 1:52 left in the game to bring the Eagles within six points.
But that’s as close as they would get.
Worthington closed out the game on a 6-2 run, eventually winning the contest by 10 points.
“I thought we did a lot better offensively tonight than we have been lately. We scored over 80 points, so that’s pretty good,” Gerber said. “We passed the ball a lot better. And we’ve been working on our defense and playing as a team defensively and I think that showed tonight too. Instead of someone just guarding their one designated person, we guarded everybody. We talked a lot more on defense. So I think we’re getting better right at the right time.”
SWC (16-4) was led by Amber Pater’s 22 points. Zeinstra added 17 points, while DeRuyter had 13 points for the Eagles.
WHS (13-7, 9-2 Southwest Conference) was led by Kristen Andersen’s double-double of 25 points and 15 rebounds. She also had three steals on the night.
Gerber also had a double-double of 24 points and 10 assists. She added eight rebounds and a team-leading seven steals in the win.
Bernadette Boever added 11 points and five steals. She was also the only Trojan not to commit a turnover in the game.
But it was the play of Andersen and Gerber that had Lindner talking after the game.
“Those two just had monster games,” the coach said. “They did a really nice job in the half court offense, while still attacking the basket. Both of them contributed a lot to our sideline out-of-bounds play where we isolated one-on-one and made good passes to make buckets.
“But Kristen was a monster on the boards too. She had 14 rebounds in the second half alone. Anytime you get that many rebounds, that’s a good night on the glass. And that attributed to some easy putback baskets for her too.”
Both teams play again on Thursday. SWC takes on Ellsworth at home, while Worthington travels to take on Jackson County Central.
The Trojans won significantly, 79-49, in the two team’s first meeting on Dec. 13.
However, Lindner said the Huskies have improved tremendously since that first meeting — JCC is 15-9 on the season — and the coach is expecting it to be a much more competitive game.
Gerber guessed that defense would be a key to winning that conference game, while Andersen said she expected it to be very aggressive.
“It’s going to be a good game,” Lindner said. “The thing that worries me about us is that sometimes we find the answer to our problems, but all at the same time we create another question and that’s the biggest thing. We did a lot of things well tonight, but we really need to stay consistent and we need to be patient. Hopefully we’ll be able to try a few new things in that game as we prepare for tournaments, but I’m expecting Jackson to be a completely different team than what we faced earlier this season.”
SWC 36 36 — 72
WHS 42 40 — 82
SWC (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) Pater 0-10-2-22, Zeinstra 0-6-5-17, DeRuyter 1-3-4-13, Schmidt 0-0-1-1, Van Hulzen 0-1-2-4, Vander Woude 0-3-0-6, Van Dyke 0-4-1-9. Total 1-27-15-72.
WHS (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) Boever 0-3-5-11, Andersen 1-9-4-25, Gerber 0-9-6-24, Gravenhof 0-0-2-2, Landgaard 0-1-4-6, Riley 0-1-0-2, Kemper 0-2-1-5, Juber 1-1-2-7. Total 2-26-24-82.
Daily Globe Sports Reporter Jocelyn Syrstad can be reached at 376-7335.