WHS GIRLS' BASKETBALL: Trojans fall to MainstreetersMINNEAPOLIS — The season didn’t end the way the Trojans had hoped. The Worthington girls’ basketball team made it to the state tournament, but a heart-breaking 65-51 loss sent the team packing after just one game in Minneapolis.
MINNEAPOLIS — The season didn’t end the way the Trojans had hoped.
The Worthington girls’ basketball team made it to the state tournament, but a heart-breaking 65-51 loss sent the team packing after just one game in Minneapolis.
In the quarterfinal round Wednesday night, Worthington lost to Sauk Centre, the returning Class AA third-place finisher.
Although the two teams seemed to be evenly matched on paper, the Mainstreeters—who will face undefeated New Richland-H-E-G in Friday’s semifinal round—outright executed better.
“It’s been a good ride for these kids even though they came up short tonight,” WHS head coach Eric Lindner said. “I’m sure they’re happy with their effort. We just need to refocus ourselves now and know that this has been a very good season for us.”
For the most part, the Trojans hung with the Mainstreeters (26-4), but there were two trouble areas for Worthington that did the team in—shooting and rebounding.
Sauk Centre finished the game with 52 rebounds, compared to Worthington’s 35. That’s a difference of 17, and enough to make for a difficult ballgame to win.
Thirty-seven of the Mainstreeter’s 52 boards were from the defensive end, meaning the Trojans didn’t have very many second-chance opportunities.
Which probably could’ve helped considering the team shot only 31 percent (18-of-58) from the field and 8 percent (1-of-12) from 3-point range. That is compared to the 42 percent (23-of-55) the Mainstreeters’ shot from the field and the 37 percent (7-of-19) they shot from 3-point range.
“We did everything we could, but you’re not going to win many ballgames when you shoot the way we did,” Lindner said. “I mean, the shooting background was different, with no wall right behind the hoop, but our opponents were able to convert and you have to give them credit for that. Other than the shooting and rebounding though, I thought we played with them.”
The biggest frustration for the coaching staff — and several players — was the Trojans’ approach on offense. When the girls drove inside and attacked the basket, they usually came away with two points or a trip to the free-throw line.
They were successful with that approach. The problem? They just didn’t do it very often.
Instead, the girls would rush down the court, come to a complete stop and try to force an outside shot.
“I had no problem with our effort,” Lindner said. “I think it was a case where we weren’t aggressive enough offensively and they shot a lot better than us. We kept preaching to the kids to be aggressive to the basket, but they kept wanting to stop and take a pull-up shot. We just needed to be more aggressive and try to draw more fouls on them. That’s what tended to happen when we did that.”
The Trojans actually had fewer turnovers than their opponents, committing only 15 compared to the Mainstreeters’ 20. Worthington also had five blocks (Sauk Centre had two) and eight steals (Sauk Centre had four.)
Worthington also shot better than Sauk Centre from the free-throw line. The Trojans went 14-of-25 (56 percent), while the Mainstreeters went 12-of-27 (44 percent).
“I don’t think we were even really running an offense,” WHS senior Kristen Andersen said. “It was just mumble-jumble all over the place and we were making some stupid mistakes. It’s too bad, but we felt like at the end of the game there wasn’t anymore we could do.”
The Trojans didn’t start off the game on the wrong foot. In fact, they were only down by two points four minutes into the contest.
But the Mainstreeters began to quickly pull away. With six minutes left in the first half, Sauk Centre had a 16-point lead (23-7). Worthington’s only points had come from a basket apiece from Mackenzie Gerber and Bernadetter Boever and three foul shots.
However, the Trojans were able to go on a 15-8 run to close the half, entering the break down by just nine points (31-22).
“They did exactly what we thought they would do,” Lindner said. “They just did a better job of shutting down our game.”
Worthington didn’t fall too behind in the second half, but the team didn’t gain any ground on Sauk Centre either. The Trojans maintained a nine to 13-point deficit for the majority of the second half.
It wasn’t until the four minute mark that the Mainstreeters began to pull away. Sauk Centre went on a 13-8 run in the final four minutes of regulation to establish a 14-point victory (65-51).
“They’re a good team,” Andersen said. “They have a lot of good players and they’re really physical and rough on defense. We did what we could against them and it’s just too bad that we ended up short-handed.”
The Trojans snapped an eight-game winning streak dating back to Feb. 11 with the loss, finishing their season with a 20-8 record.
It was the first time Worthington had made it to the state tournament since 2009, when they also lost in the quarterfinal round. That season it was a 54-50 loss to New Prague in Class AAA.
But despite the sour finish, the girls are overall pleased with their season.
“We can’t hang our heads on this one,” Andersen said. “It is what it is and we had a great season despite this ending.”
SC 31 34 — 65
WHS 22 29 — 51
SC (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) Primus 3-1-0-11, Klaphake 1-1-2-7, Peschel 2-2-4-14, Weller 1-3-4-13, Gruber 0-5-2-12, Ellens 0-1-0-2, VonWalde 0-3-0-6. Total 7-23-12-65.
WHS (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) Juber 0-1-2-4, Landgaard 0-1-0-2, Gerber 1-8-3-20, Andersen 0-3-7-13, B. Boever 0-3-2-8, Riley 0-2-0-4. Total 1-18-14-51.
Daily Globe Sports Reporter Jocelyn Syrstad can be reached at 376-7335.