WHS BOYS' BASKETBALL: Trojans clip rival Eagles 80-66WORTHINGTON — The Worthington Trojans boys’ basketball team wrapped up the regular season with a 80-66 victory over the Windom Eagles in the Southwest Conference Monday night.
By: Lance Knutson, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — The Worthington Trojans boys’ basketball team wrapped up the regular season with a 80-66 victory over the Windom Eagles in the Southwest Conference Monday night.
While the margin of victory was a bit larger for WHS than in the previous meeting between the two squads (84-78 Trojan win on Jan. 20), the two teams played even in the second half after the hosts jumped out to a 14-point halftime lead.
It was the final regular season contest for both squads with the Trojans improving to 17-6 overall and 8-4 in the conference (third place), while the Eagles drop to 14-10 overall and 5-7 in the conference (tied for fourth place.)
“We certainly can play better,” WHS head coach Ron Vorwald said following the game. “This is a tough game to get up for because it was really a meaningless game for both teams, as the seedings are already done and the conference race is over.
“But it is still a game and our guys competed. I liked the way we competed and I felt that we had some great contributions off the bench. Spencer Grafing came in and shot the ball very well and Marcus Potter played a great game for us.
“We only had one turnover in the second half, which is encouraging, and I thought we played better defense, for the most part, in the second half. But we still have to get better.”
The Trojans jumped out to their big halftime lead with Mitch Weg (11 rebounds, two steals and two blocks) scoring 15 of his game-high 26 points, while Lucas Henning (three assists and five rebounds) scored 13 of his 15 points in the opening frame.
On “Senior Night”, the two seniors helped WHS grab an 11-4 lead four minutes into the contest, but Windom was able to counter and drew within 18-16 with eight minutes left in the half, as Lee Holt converted a three-point play and a 3-pointer, while Andy Pfeffer, Doug Tabb and Jacob Johnson each had baskets.
Fellow Trojan senior Jon Reller had a nifty reverse layup at 12:30 to make it 13-8 off a Weg assist during that span for the Trojans.
However, the Trojans finished out the first half on a 21-8 run with Morgan Traylor (12 points) highlighting the run with a dunk and free throw for a three-point play with 3:28 left.
WHS widened the margin to 18 points several times in the second half, but Windom kept responding and closed the margin to 11 points (67-56) with 5:54 left in the game.
The Holt twins, Lee and Jake, were playing with limited minutes in Monday’s game after missing the Eagles’ previous two contests, but the senior standouts made their presence known when they were in the game.
“We’ve been without Lee and Jake for the past two games and they haven’t practiced at all due to illness,” Windom head coach Dane Nielsen said. “They’ve had a tough week, week and a half, and we just wanted them to get their legs back underneath them.”
With Windom trailing 50-32 with 12 minutes left, Lee Holt (five rebounds) scored 12 of his team-high 21 points, while Jake Holt (five rebounds) added a putback basket over the next three-and-a-half minutes.
Unfortunately for the visitors, Spencer Grafing heated up for the Trojans in that same span, making a long 2-pointer, a 3-pointer and a pair of free throws to make it 61-46 with 8:30 to go.
Grafing scored all 13 of his points after the intermission and buried another pair of 3s to widen the Trojans lead to 67-49 with 7:55 left.
Jake Holt and Collin Lovell both finished with 10 points in the contest and helped the Eagles close to within 11 points at 67-56, but the visitors came one defensive stand short of having a chance to pull within single digits.
Nathan Remmers finished with nine points and 10 rebounds, while Pfeffer added seven points and Trevor Cuppy had nine rebounds for a Windom squad that had nine players find the scoring column.
Marcus Potter finished the contest with six points for WHS.
While the two teams don’t know if they we meet again this year, Windom hopes they see Worthington again.
“We know it’s going to be tough, but our goal is to be playing this team again up at SMSU in the subsection final,” Nielsen said. “We know we can play with anybody and make a nice run. But we need to have everybody healthy and everything clicking. We have to take care of business with Jackson on Saturday and go from there.”
The Eagles claimed the third seed in the Section 3AA South playoffs and host Jackson County Central on Saturday.
While both teams need to take care of their own business for a potential subsection final matchup to happen, Vorwald knows the Eagles would be a tough playoff foe.
“Windom’s a very scary team,” Vorwald said. “They are a good basketball team, especially when they have both Holt boys healthy and going. My hope is that we don’t see them down the road. But if we do, we have them on tape and we will certainly have to bring our ‘A’ game if we see these guys again.”
The Trojans, who claimed the top seed in the subsection, first order of business is to dispatch of eighth-seeded St. James on Saturday in Worthington.
“St. James is really young and they shoot a lot of 3s,” Vorwald said. “They run a lot of motion and run-and-gun. They take long shots and create a lot of long rebounds. We will have to do a better job of rebounding the basketball than we did (Monday), as we gave up too many offensive boards.”
Game time Saturday is scheduled for a 7:30 p.m. tipoff.
Windom 24 42 — 66
WHS 38 42 — 80
Windom (3FG-2FG-FT-TP): Pfeffer 0-2-3-7, Tabb 0-1-0-2, Johnson 0-1-0-2, Bever 0-0-2-2, L. Holt 3-5-2-21, Lovell 0-2-6-10, Remmers 0-4-1-9, Cuppy 0-1-1-3, J. Holt 1-3-1-10. Totals 4-19-16-66.
WHS (3FG-2FG-FT-TP): J. Vorwald 0-2-0-4, Henning 3-3-0-15, Potter 1-1-1-6, Traylor 0-5-2-12, Grafing 3-1-2-13, Weg 0-10-6-26, Reller 0-2-0-4. Totals 7-24-11-80.