TROJAN BOYS BASKETBALL: Trojans defeat WolverinesWORTHINGTON — After a back-and-forth, high-paced first half ended in a 42-42 tie Thursday night, the Worthington Trojans kept on scoring well while at the same time played better defensively in the second half to run away with a 93-70 victory over the Sibley East Wolverines in the first round of the 15th Annual Daily Globe-Trojan Holiday Classic boys’ basketball tournament at Worthington High School.
By: Lucas Knutson, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — After a back-and-forth, high-paced first half ended in a 42-42 tie Thursday night, the Worthington Trojans kept on scoring well while at the same time played better defensively in the second half to run away with a 93-70 victory over the Sibley East Wolverines in the first round of the 15th Annual Daily Globe-Trojan Holiday Classic boys’ basketball tournament at Worthington High School.
The Trojans (4-2) outscored the Wolverines (3-3) 51-28 in the second half and finished with a big 44-27 rebounding advantage, as four players scored in double figures to give Worthington a balanced attack and helped propel the home black-and-red squad into the championship game of this tournament for the first time since 2009.
“I was pleased with the way we played offensively throughout the game and with how we turned it up a notch defensively in the second half,” Worthington head coach Ron Vorwald said after the game. “We played much better defense after halftime, and that was the key to the ballgame. We’re happy to be back in the championship game, and we’ll certainly have our work cut out for us playing Perham.”
Worthington will meet the Perham Yellowjackets at 6:30 p.m. today, following the third-place game between Sibley East and the Mankato West Scarlets at 5 p.m. Perham (5-3) claimed a 68-60 victory over Mankato West (4-3) in Thursday’s first game.
“We are glad to be here, as this is a great tournament with outstanding competition,” Sibley East head coach Mike Feterl said. “It’s games like these that are going to help us as the season progresses. Give Worthington a lot of credit — they wore us down quite a bit in the second half with defensive pressure and offensive balance.”
Marcus Potter scored a team-high 20 points and dished out 13 assists to lead the Trojans, while Morgan Traylor (14 rebounds) and Spencer Grafing each netted 18 points. Will Dudley produced a 17-point, 11-rebound double-double for Worthington, which gradually widened the gap throughout the second half.
Sam Harrison poured in 16 of his game-high 28 points in the first half to pace Sibley East, while Tyler Bates (13), Brody Rodning (10), Max Grabow (nine) and Zac Weber (six) combined to score 38 points for the Wolverines.
Harrison and Bates sparked an early 16-6 run for the Wolverines, turning a quick 8-0 deficit into a 16-14 lead with 12 minutes and 16 seconds remaining in the first half. They each knocked down a 3-pointer and slashed inside for baskets to spark Sibley East.
Potter took a pair of steals in for layups (one was a 3-point play), while Grafing meshed a left-wing 3-pointer to get Worthington out to that early 8-0 cushion two minutes in. Potter also dialed in a 3-pointer from out top to make it 11-4 at the 15:05 mark.
The rest of the half was evenly-played after Sibley East’s 10-point run, and the Wolverines actually opened up a 28-23 lead with 6:52 left. A couple of breakaway layups by Rodning, plus two free throws by Weber, helped create that five-point margin.
A 3-point play off an offensive rebound by Traylor and a 3-pointer in the left corner by Grafing off a transition assist from Potter allowed Worthington to pull even (at 30) before Dudley scored on back-to-back possessions to help the Trojans regain a 34-32 lead with 3:11 to go.
A second-effort putback basket by Carter Lindner later gave Worthington a 40-39 lead, while a 3-point play by Harrison put Sibley East right back up 42-40. A runner off the glass by Potter accounted for the final points of the half, which featured a total of seven ties and five lead changes (most of them in the closing minutes).
The second half started out the same way, beginning with another 3-point play by Harrison to give the Wolverines a 45-42 edge 46 seconds in. Harrison later scored on an inside pivot move to put Sibley East up 47-46.
Worthington led 46-45 prior to that. Traylor scored inside off a flex cut, and Potter connected on a 15-footer, as the back-and-forth action continued.
The Trojans, though, took a 50-47 lead at the 15:11 mark after consecutive baskets from Dudley and Josh Vander Veen, who hit a floater in the lane. Worthington never relinquished the lead and was up 56-49 with 12:40 remaining following hoops from Potter, Grafing and Traylor.
Worthington scored in a variety of ways and gradually widened the gap over the next several minutes. A couple of 3-point plays by Dudley, two putbacks by Traylor and a few perimeter jumpers by Grafing helped make it a 76-61 lead with 6:40 showing.
Potter was the facilitator for much of what Worthington got done offensively. He dished out back-to-back assists to Dylan Gravenhof (fast-break layup) and Will Mulder (baseline 15-footer) to make it 82-63 at the 5:31 mark.
Mulder hit another mid-range jumper and added a 3-pointer from the right corner (Potter assist), while Randy Traylor (interior bucket) and Brandon Gray (steal and layup) also scored late in the game to help Worthington stay in command.
“We moved the ball and hit some shots, which always helps the cause and makes things easier,” Vorwald said. “A lot of guys contributed and put the ball in the basket. But the bigger key was our defense, as we got five consecutive stops in two different spans during the second half.”
Sibley East 70
Sibley East (3-3): Rodning 3 3-4 10, Weber 1 4-4 6, Schauer 0 0-2 0, Grack 1 0-0 2, Bates 3 6-6 13, Harrison 12 2-3 28, Bruss 1 0-0 2, Grabow 4 1-3 9. Totals: 25 16-22 70.
Worthington (4-2): Gray 1 0-0 2, Miller 0 0-2 0, Vander Veen 1 0-0 2, Dudley 7 3-4 17, Potter 9 1-3 20, Gravenhof 2 0-1 4, Mulder 3 0-0 7, Guerra 0 0-3 0, M. Traylor 8 2-5 18, Grafing 7 0-0 18, R. Traylor 1 0-0 2, Weg 0 0-2 0, Lindner 1 1-3 3. Totals: 40 7-23 93.
Halftime: Sibley East 42, Worthington 42. 3-Point Goals: Sibley East 4 (Harrison 2, Rodning, Bates); Worthington 6 (Grafing 4, Potter, Mulder). Rebounds: Sibley East 27 (Bates 8, Harrison 5); Worthington 44 (M. Traylor 14, Dudley 11). Turnovers: Sibley East 14, Worthington 12.