GIRLS BASKETBALL: Wabasso holds off WorthingtonTrojans’ rally against Rabbits falls short
By: Lucas Knutson, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — After opening the second half on a 13-2 burst and building a couple of different 13-point leads Thursday night, the Wabasso Rabbits had to hold off a furious rally down the stretch to earn a 69-66 victory over the Worthington Trojans in a non-conference girls basketball game.
There were a total of 66 turnovers in the fast-paced ballgame, as both teams applied a variety of pressure defensive schemes to generate an up-and-down tempo. That style was certainly on display during Wabasso’s 11-point surge coming out of the halftime break.
“We played well in spurts, and that one to start the second half was a major difference in the final outcome,” Wabasso head coach Neil Dolan said after the game. “Worthington has a good team and this was a real test for us, but we held on for an important win. We didn’t fold when we very easily could have, so I’m proud of the girls.”
The Rabbits (7-1 overall) built a 44-31 lead and later held a 54-41 advantage, but the Trojans (7-3 overall) rallied with an impressive 14-2 run to pull within 56-55 at the 4:29 mark of the second half. Worthington trailed 59-58 nearly a minute later, as well.
Wabasso, though, stayed ahead and extended the margin to eight (67-59) before again holding off one final Trojans’ comeback attempt in the last minute.
“We certainly fought back well, which was nice to see,” Worthington head coach Eric Lindner said. “We simply turned the ball over too many times and missed a lot of easy shots, particularly in the first half. Those things are tough to overcome and ended up costing us, even though we did start to get hot late in the second half.”
Worthington was charted for 34 turnovers, and Wabasso finished with 32 giveaways. Each team seemed to turn the ball over in bunches, with one of the Trojans’ stretches coming early in the second half.
Wabasso led 31-29 at halftime and then ripped off 11 straight points to increase a 33-31 lead to 44-31 with 14:11 remaining. Chelsey Guetter (21 points, nine rebounds) scored the Rabbits’ first two baskets of the half in the lane.
The Rabbits also created some havoc with their pressure defense, converting turnovers into points in the open court. Guetter, Kimberly Frank (17 points, seven steals) and Kacie Rothmeier (nine points) each scored off a steal to help Wabasso take a 13-point cushion.
However, the Rabbits then ran into a stretch where they kept turning the ball over. Worthington used some double-teaming and scrambling tactics of its own to work its way back into contention.
Paige Gravenhof, who finished with 16 points, eight rebounds, five assists and five steals, started things for the Trojans with a breakaway layup. She had another layup off a steal a bit later, while Lydia Kemper (seven points, seven steals) had back-to-back steals at midcourt — turning them into three points (layup and one-of-two free throws) — to make it 44-38 with 11:35 showing on the clock.
But Wabasso regrouped and pushed its lead back to 13 (54-41) three minutes later. Karlee Eichten (eight points) scored twice in that sequence, while Becky Franta knocked down a left-elbow shot to fuel the Rabbits.
Worthington, though, came roaring right back. An interior basket by Whitney Coriolan (seven points) preceded another steal-and-layup by Gravenhof to narrow the deficit to nine (54-45).
Ana Boever (13 points, seven rebounds) then buried back-to-back 3-pointers from the exact same spot near the top of the key to suddenly make it a three-point game (54-51) with 5:39 left.
A layup off a steal by Kemper brought the Trojans within one (56-55) at the 4:29 mark before exchanging 3-pointers from Wabasso’s Larissa Rohlik (eight points) and Gravenhof made it 59-58 Rabbits with 3:35 to go.
However, the Rabbits put the brakes on the Trojans’ run when Guetter scored on a pair of strong moves down low to make it 63-58. Frank then drilled a mid-range bank shot to make it 65-58 with 2:20 remaining.
A breakaway layup by Frank put Wabasso up 67-59 at the 1:08 mark, but Worthington kept finding something in the tank to creep closer.
Two free throws by Abbie Landgaard (10 points) and a basket off a steal by Kemper trimmed the gap to four (67-63) with 44 seconds left.
Guetter then scored on a baseline drive to make it 69-63 with 33 seconds to play, and the Rabbits got a defensive stop on the other end. But Wabasso was unable to convert at the free-throw line, leaving the door open for Worthington in the final 10 seconds.
Boever dialed in her third 3-pointer to make it 69-66, and the Trojans called their last timeout with 2.7 seconds remaining.
Wabasso missed the front end of another one-and-one free-throw opportunity with 1.3 seconds to play, but the Rabbits secured an offensive rebound to escape with a three-point win.
“We are fortunate to come out of here with a win,” Dolan said. “We need to do a better job of taking care of the ball and handling pressure. We knew we were going to be tested, and we found a way to beat a good team on the road.”
The first half was close throughout, with neither team leading by more than six points. Rothmeier and Ellen Franta each hit a 3-pointer to give Wabasso an early 10-4 lead.
Worthington came back and claimed a 20-18 lead when Brooke Henning — who scored six seconds into the game off the opening tip won by the Trojans — banked in a shot at the 5:30 mark.
K.C. Riley hit a pair of perimeter shots (17-footer and 3-pointer) late in the half for Worthington, while Landgaard meshed a pull-up jumper from the right elbow. Apiew Alwal netted two free throws to aid the Trojans.
An offensive-rebound basket by Eichten with nine seconds left sent Wabasso into the locker room with a 31-29 lead, and the Rabbits started the second half strong — setting up Worthington’s comeback effort.
“Our hustle and work ethic is very good, and I’m happy with how hard the girls play,” Lindner said. “We just need to do the little things better and become a more fundamentally sound team. We need to improve our passing and value our offensive possessions more.”
Worthington plays at Fulda on Saturday, while Wabasso hosts Buffalo Lake-Hector-Stewart tonight.
WABASSO 69, WORTHINGTON 66
WABASSO (7-1): L. Rohlik 3 0-0 8, Kramer 0 1-2 1, Eichten 4 0-0 8, B. Franta 1 0-0 2, K. Frank 7 3-4 17, E. Franta 1 0-0 3, K. Rothmeier 4 0-0 9, Guetter 9 3-10 21. Totals: 29 7-16 69.
WORTHINGTON (7-3): Boever 5 0-0 13, Landgaard 3 4-6 10, Henning 2 0-0 4, Kemper 3 1-2 7, Gravenhof 6 2-4 16, Riley 2 0-0 5, Coriolan 2 3-4 7, Alwal 1 2-2 4. Totals: 24 12-18 66.
Halftime: Wabasso 31, Worthington 29. 3-Point Goals: Wabasso 4 (L. Rohlik 2, K. Frank, Rothmeier); Worthington 6 (Boever 3, Gravenhof 2, Riley). Rebounds: Wabasso 38 (Kramer 13, Guetter 9); Worthington 31 (Gravenhof 8, Boever 7). Assists: Wabasso 20 (Kramer 7); Worthington 14 (Landgaard 5, Gravenhof 5). Steals: Wabasso 18 (K. Frank 7); Worthington 17 (Kemper 7, Gravenhof 5). Turnovers: Wabasso 32; Worthington 34.