WHS BOYS' BASKETBALL: Big 2nd half lifts Marshall over WHSWORTHINGTON — After a highly-competitive, evenly-played first half of action Thursday evening, the depth-filled Marshall Tigers roared to an impressive 19-9 run in the opening seven minutes of the second half and eventually stretched a commanding 56-42 lead into an 81-57 Southwest Conference high school boys’ basketball victory over the Worthington Trojans.
By: Les Knutson, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — After a highly-competitive, evenly-played first half of action Thursday evening, the depth-filled Marshall Tigers roared to an impressive 19-9 run in the opening seven minutes of the second half and eventually stretched a commanding 56-42 lead into an 81-57 Southwest Conference high school boys’ basketball victory over the Worthington Trojans.
With the win, the Tigers (15-8 overall) improve to 9-2 in the conference, trailing only league-leading Redwood Valley (18-1, 10-1) with their final SWC clash at Windom Feb. 24.
The Trojans, meanwhile, had a five-game winning streak snapped and are 15-6 overall and 7-4 in the Southwest.
WHS hosts Section 2AA rival Martin County West Tuesday night in its final game before the section seedings. The Trojans close out their conference schedule at Windom Feb. 27.
“That’s the good news,” Worthington head coach Ron Vorwald said after Thursday night’s contest. “We get to play again and they are both important games — as was this one tonight.
“But the wheels came off — all four of them — in the second half. Marshall played very well and played hard. We got taken to the wood shed and were given a good old-fashioned kicking.”
The Tigers, who edged the Trojans by three points, 52-49, at Marshall Dec. 16 in the fourth game of the season for both squads, displayed an arsenal of offensive weapons and a variety of defensive tactics Thursday as seven players scored between seven and 16 points.
“We have nice balance and good depth, which helps us play an aggressive style,” summed up MHS head coach Tom Critchley, Jr. “We don’t let up. We had great guard play tonight in the first half and then we finished around the basket so much better in the second half, completing plays.”
After hitting 3-pointer at halftime buzzer, MHS dominates second half
Lee Christianson, a 6-3 senior guard, sank a 25-foot 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer which gave the Tigers a 37-33 advantage at intermission.
Christianson finished with seven rebounds, a pair of assists and 15 points for Marshall.
After scoring 10 points in the first half, Christianson dialed in his third 3-pointer of the night two minutes into the second half — quickly answering a 3-pointer by Worthington’s Jon Vorwald, which had brought the Trojans to within five, 41-36.
But, WHS never came closer than that.
Christianson’s trey made the score 44-36 and Marshall later stretched a 50-42 lead to a 14-point spread with six unanswered points in just over a minute’s span.
A nice inside move by 6-2 senior guard Mason Schnaible (13 points) started the surge, which was followed by an elevated mid-range jumper from 6-4 sophomore center Tyus DeBoer and a hard right-side drive by 6-2 junior guard Hunter Peterson, forcing a Worthington timeout — as the Trojans trailed 56-42 with just under 11 minutes to play.
“We didn’t react to that drive,” exclaimed Coach Vorwald. “Our team defense was not what it needed to be. We never got more than two consecutive defensive stops the entire second half — that’s just not acceptable.”
Coming out of the timeout, the Tigers continued to roar.
Following a steal by Peterson — who Critchley praised as a “great energy guy coming off the bench” — Austin Saugstad, a 6-0 junior guard, sank a 3-pointer which capped a 22-9 second-half surge for the Tigers and gave the visitors a 59-42 lead with 10:26 to play.
Saugstad, who finished with a team-leading 16 points, scored in a variety of ways, including nine timely points during the middle minutes of the first half.
Following a basket by Lucas Henning (assist Jon Vorwald), Peterson hit a 3-pointer for the Tigers, increasing the lead to 18.
A free throw by DeBoer and a basket by 6-3 junior forward Derek Buysse gave Marshall a huge 65-44 advantage with just under nine minutes left.
Buysse was the eighth player to score for the Tigers in the second half and — after a nifty press-break pass from Dan Wetering to Morgan Traylor for a Trojans’ basket — he scored again on a beautiful pick-and-roll pass from Saugstad, making the score 67-46.
Marshall continued to play great team defense and following a rebound basket by Schnaible and a nice cut down the lane by Christianson (assist Spencer Petrich), the lead was 25.
“Tip your hat to Marshall,” declared Ron Vorwald, “They executed a lot of things and chased down a lot of rebounds, getting repeat chances.”
The Tigers, who had five players combine for eight 3-pointers in the game, got another trey — a contested shot from the right corner — by Buysse to stake themselves to a 74-49 lead inside of five minutes.
Worthington’s final eight points came on a bucket by Mitch Weg (assist Wetering), a jumper by Will Dudley (assist Josh Vander Veen), a jumper by Dylan Gravenhof (assist Dudley) and a top-of-the key jump shot by Vander Veen, who cleared himself nicely for the 2-pointer.
Marshall’s last points came on a three-point play by Tanner Bukowski (assist Peterson) and drives by Petrich and Alex Werner.
Weg scores 16 points in first half, caps 11-0 run
Weg, who finished with five rebounds and a game-high 21 points, scored six field goals and was a perfect four-of-four at the line in the first half.
Those 16 points sparked the Trojans, who held early leads of 4-0, 6-5, 8-7 and 10-9 before Marshall surged with an 11-0 run and took a 20-10 lead.
Schnaible scored seven of Marshall’s first nine points and had the assist on the other field goal.
Five players combined to score the Tigers first 20 points, as their balance was evident early on.
A 3-pointer by 5-10 sophomore guard Marcus Potter at the 8:22 mark finally ended a four-minute scoring drought for the Trojans, slicing the gap to 20-13.
Marshall went back up by 10, but Worthington responded with a basket by Traylor (assist Weg), a pair of free throws by Wetering (following a steal), a long right-side 3-pointer by Lucas Henning (assist Potter on the press break), a bucket by Weg (off a screen by Traylor) and a left-side mid-range jumper by Weg.
Those 11 straight points gave WHS a 24-23 lead with 4:26 left in the first half.
The Tigers answered with a 7-0 run of their own, capped by Christianson’s first 3-pointer.
Worthington’s Jon Reller scored on a second-effort chance underneath, Weg scored off an assist from Henning and Henning knocked a 3-pointer (assist Reller), bringing the Trojans to within one, 32-31, with a minute left in the half.
Two free throws by DeBoer gave MHS a three-point edge with 41 seconds left.
Weg scored on a putback, making it 34-33 and then came up with a steal.
The Trojans had a chance to regain the lead, but missed a 3-pointer from the corner and Christianson came down and sank his long shot at the horn, sending the Tigers into intermission with a four-point cushion.
“That was a big turnaround just before halftime,” summed up Coach Vorwald. “Then things got away from us a few minutes into the second half.
“We needed more overall effort. We simply didn’t work hard enough.”
Aaron Mathiowetz, a 6-2 junior forward, had seven rebounds and four assists for the Tigers, who came up with 10 steals in the game, forcing a total of 15 Worthington turnovers.
Bukowski, a 6-3 junior forward, finished with nine points for Marshall, while Peterson (four steals, four assists), DeBoer and Buyssee each netted seven points.
Traylor (five rebounds) and Henning (four assists) each scored eight points for the Trojans, while Wetering dished off a trio of assists.
A total of 20 players — 10 for each team — scored in the game.
Marshall 37 44 — 81
Worthington 33 24 — 57
MHS (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) Mathiowetz 0-1-1-3, Peterson 1-1-2-7, Schnaible 1-4-2-13, Saugstad 2-4-2-16, Christianson 3-3-0-15, Bukowski 0-4-1-9, Buysse 1-2-0-7, DeBoer 0-2-3-7, Petrich 0-1-0-2, Werner 0-1-0-2. Totals 8-23-11-81.
WHS (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) Dudley 0-1-0-2, Vorwald 1-1-0-5, Henning 2-1-0-8, Vander Veen 0-1-0-2, Potter 1-0-0-3, Gravenhof 0-1-0-2, Wetering 0-0-2-2, Traylor 0-4-0-8, Weg 0-8-5-21, Reller 0-2-0-4. Totals 4-19-7-57.