BOYS BASKETBALL: Luverne knocks off WorthingtonWORTHINGTON — Shooting a remarkable 70 percent from the field and featuring a well-balanced scoring attack with six players in double figures Tuesday night, the Luverne Cardinals led nearly the entire way and claimed an 84-78 victory over the Worthington Trojans in a key Southwest Conference boys’ basketball game.
By: Lucas Knutson, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — Shooting a remarkable 70 percent from the field and featuring a well-balanced scoring attack with six players in double figures Tuesday night, the Luverne Cardinals led nearly the entire way and claimed an 84-78 victory over the Worthington Trojans in a key Southwest Conference boys’ basketball game.
Luverne, which improves to 3-1 overall and 2-0 in the league, led 43-34 at halftime and built a trio of 17-point cushions (70-53, 72-55 and 74-57) in the second half, as six of the seven Cardinals who played accounted for all of the scoring — with each netting at least 10 points.
Tuesday’s win was the first for Luverne over Worthington since the 2006-2007 season when the Cardinals went 21-9 and played in the Class AA state tournament.
“I’m really happy for our team — especially our seniors — as it’s been a long time since we have beat Worthington,” Luverne head coach Tom Rops said after the game. “We had great balance offensively with six guys in double figures and did a nice job in our zone defense of slowing Worthington down just enough. We really played solid for all 36 minutes.”
Luverne’s Matt Arends (seven rebounds, six assists) scored 13 of his team-high 18 points in the first half, while Brett Heronimus (nine assists, seven rebounds) scored 10 of his 17 points before the intermission. Matt Overgaard had 13 points and five rebounds for the Cardinals.
Josh Slieter (six rebounds), Blake Ziegler (four rebounds) and Alex Weis scored 12 points apiece for Luverne, which was 33-for-47 — including 18-for-22 in the first half — from the field and outrebounded Worthington by a 32-19 margin.
“It was a tough day at the office for us,” Worthington head coach Ron Vorwald said. “We had a lot of defensive breakdowns, but you have to give credit to Luverne. They came out ready to go and played really well all night long — they simply took it to us.”
Worthington (2-1, 1-1) had five players score in double figures, with Marcus Potter (18 points, six assists) leading the way. Morgan Traylor (13 points, eight rebounds), Will Dudley (12 points), Will Mulder (12 points) and Spencer Grafing (10 points) also had big games for the Trojans.
Worthington was playing without starting guard Jon Vorwald, who is expected to miss up to six weeks with a jaw injury that he suffered in last Friday night’s game against Windom.
The Trojans, though, held their own for much of the first half. An early 3-pointer by Dylan Gravenhof (eight points, four assists) gave Worthington a 3-2 lead, while Traylor scored three quick baskets down low within the first six minutes.
A 3-pointer in transition by Grafing and a 12-footer in the lane by Dudley later kept Worthington within one (19-18) at the 9:58 mark, but Luverne started to gain some separation — beginning with a 9-3 burst that gave the Cardinals a 28-21 advantage with 5:36 remaining.
Luverne did the majority of its scoring on drives and cuts to the hoop, only netting two 3-pointers in the game (both by Arends). Arends buried his second trey in the midst of the Cardinals’ 9-3 run and also did his share of scoring on slashes in the lane throughout the first half.
Slieter, Weis, Heronimus and Overgaard also mixed in several baskets from close range, as Luverne was able to spread the court and penetrate for open shot opportunities.
A breakaway layup by Arends, two buckets in the paint by Overgaard and two driving hoops by Heronimus sparked Luverne in the final five minutes, as the Cardinals took a 43-34 halftime lead.
Potter and Mulder each hit 3-pointers to help keep Worthington within striking distance, while Carter Lindner converted on a 3-point play for the Trojans.
Worthington’s Josh Vander Veen (four assists) opened the second half by meshing a shot from the left elbow, but a pair of baskets underneath by Slieter helped Luverne stay in control.
Ziegler, who scored 10 points in the second half, gave the Cardinals a 59-44 bulge with 12:59 showing on the clock — first scoring on an offensive-rebound chance and then delivering a 3-point play off a nifty fast-break assist by Arends.
A couple of more baskets by Ziegler twice helped make it a 17-point cushion (70-53 and 72-55) near the six-minute mark, while Heronimus passed to Slieter for a basket inside to make it 74-57 with 4:37 left.
Worthington countered with a 7-0 run to pull within 10 (74-64) with 3:37 remaining, as Dudley scored back-to-back baskets before Gravenhof nailed a 3-pointer in the left corner.
Mulder later knocked down two straight 3-pointers (one from each corner) to trim the gap to 79-72 with 1:39 to play, but Luverne was able to break Worthington’s full-court pressure for a few baskets and also made enough free throws (5-for-8) down the stretch to prevail.
A 3-point play by Traylor with 27.5 seconds left and a 3-pointer at the buzzer by Potter created the final score of 84-78, as it was 82-72 with a minute showing on the clock.
Worthington hosts Marshall Friday, while Luverne plays at Fulda Saturday.
Luverne (3-1, 2-0): Arends 7 2-5 18, Overgaard 5 3-4 13, Heronimus 6 5-10 17, Slieter 5 2-2 12, Ziegler 4 4-5 12, Weis 6 0-0 12. Totals: 33 16-26 84.
Worthingtong (2-1, 1-1) Vander Veen 1 0-0 2, Dudley 4 4-6 12, Potter 8 0-0 18, Gravenhof 3 0-0 8, Mulder 4 0-0 12, M. Traylor 6 1-3 13, Grafing 4 0-0 10, Lindner 1 1-1 3. Totals: 31 6-10 78.
Halftime: Luverne 43, Worthington 34. 3-Point Goals: Luverne 2 (Arends 2); Worthington 10 (Mulder 4, Potter 2, Gravenhof 2, Grafing 2). Rebounds: Luverne 32 (Arends 7, Heronimus 7); Worthington 19 (Traylor 8). Assists: Luverne 18 (Heronimus 9, Arends 6); Worthington 18 (Potter 6, Vander Veen 4, Gravenhof 4). Turnovers: Luverne 14, Worthington 10.