TROJAN BOYS BASKETBALL: Trojans defeat HuskiesWORTHINGTON — Spencer Grafing poured in 20 of his team-high 24 points in the first half Tuesday night, helping lift the Worthington Trojans to a 47-35 halftime lead and an eventual 84-71 victory over the Jackson County Central in a Southwest Conference boys’ basketball game between a pair of clubs currently in the middle of the league standings.
By: Lucas Knutson, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — Spencer Grafing poured in 20 of his team-high 24 points in the first half Tuesday night, helping lift the Worthington Trojans to a 47-35 halftime lead and an eventual 84-71 victory over the Jackson County Central in a Southwest Conference boys’ basketball game between a pair of clubs currently in the middle of the league standings.
Grafing buried four 3-pointers and was joined in double figures by the Trojans’ other four starters, who accounted for all 84 of Worthington’s points.
Will Dudley (17 points, 11 rebounds) and Morgan Traylor (15 points, 11 rebounds) each finished with a double-double for the Trojans, who improve to 7-3 overall and 3-2 in the league.
Marcus Potter scored 18 points and dished out six assists, while Josh Vander Veen added 10 points for Worthington — which is tied with Redwood Valley (who it hosts Friday night) for third place in the standings.
“We did a lot of good things offensively and shot the ball well for the most part,” Worthington head coach Ron Vorwald said after the game. “Spencer was hot in the first half, while Marcus did a nice job of penetrating and finding guys for open shots. Will and Morgan finished well down low and had some stickback baskets, plus Josh had a nice all-around game for us.”
The Trojans needed all of that offensive production because the Huskies (7-5, 2-4; fifth place) also scored well and had three players reach double digits.
Jon Harmening delivered a 25-point, 15-rebound double-double, while Shadrack Wacker (five assists) and Darnell Taylor-Breck scored 17 and 10 points, respectively, for JCC.
“We worked hard and hung in there, but we just couldn’t get over the hump,” JCC head coach Trent Sukalski said. “We got in too big of a hole in the first half and then fell behind even further early in the second half. We did make a few runs to pull closer, but Worthington kept answering everything we had and stayed in control.”
JCC had early leads of 4-0 and 6-3 behind a pair of offensive-rebound baskets by Harmening and a slashing basket in the paint by Wacker, but Worthington launched an impressive 18-3 surge to forge a 21-9 advantage with 11:38 remaining in the first half.
Driving baskets by Potter and Grafing helped kickstart that run, as did a one-handed dunk off a steal at midcourt by Traylor to give the Trojans their first lead (7-6) at the 15:59 mark.
An open 3-pointer in transition by Vander Veen (Potter assist) and a left-wing connection from beyond the arc by Grafing boosted Worthington to a 15-9 lead. Grafing, who had nailed an earlier 3-pointer for the Trojans’ first points, then scored on a cut underneath the basket (Potter assist) to make it 17-9.
An offensive-rebound basket by Dudley and two free throws from Grafing — who scored 12 points in the initial 6:22 — made it 21-9.
Putback baskets by Harmening and Nolan Hohenstein (five points) put the brakes on Worthington’s run, while Brady Place netted two free throws to help pull JCC within six (21-15) with 8:29 showing on the clock.
The Trojans were later up 31-17 with 6:03 to go following back-to-back 3-point plays by Potter and Vander Veen. Potter scored on a flex cut down low (Vander Veen assist), and Vander Veen scored on a fast-break play (Grafing assist) to spark Worthington.
Harmening, Taylor-Breck and Wacker each scored in the lane over the next several possessions, while Taylor Christopher (five points, four assists) knocked down a 3-pointer to help the Huskies trim the gap to seven (35-28) with 2:50 on the clock.
Wacker, who had 13 points before halftime, later converted a 3-point play in transition and drilled a 3-pointer from the top of the key to twice bring JCC within six (37-31 and 40-34) in the final 1:42.
However, Grafing dialed in two 3-pointers in the last 47 seconds — including one with four seconds to play on a drive-and-kick pass from Potter — to send Worthington into the locker room with a 47-35 cushion.
“There was a lot of action throughout the game, as JCC is fast and gets the ball up the court in a hurry,” Vorwald said. “They like to take the ball to the rack, and I thought we did a better job defensively in the second half of making them work for their points.”
The margin stayed right around 12 points for the first five minutes coming out of the intermission. Harmening, who scored 17 points in the second half, had a pair of interior baskets to help keep JCC close — within 52-42 — at the 15:35 mark.
Potter then scored on a nifty drive through the lane, while Traylor and Dudley followed with strong offensive-rebound baskets to give Worthington a 58-44 lead with 12:42 remaining.
JCC’s Austin Hinkeldey scored on a baseline spin move before another driving basket through traffic by Potter preceded a 3-point play off a strong offensive rebound by Traylor and an 18-footer from the top of the key by Vander Veen to help Worthington widen the gap to 21 (67-46) with 10:44 left.
Josh Thaemlitz later fired in a 3-pointer from the left corner to spark an 8-0 run that narrowed the Huskies’ deficit to 11 (69-58) with 7:02 to go. Wacker hit a pull-up jumper in transition to make it a nine-point game (75-66) with 3:50 on the clock.
Worthington, though, went 9-for-10 from the free-throw line in the last 6:17 and added a couple of baskets to maintain a three-possession lead and secure an 84-71 triumph.
“Worthington has pretty good balance inside and outside,” Sukalski said. “They are tough to defend, and we tried a couple of different things. Give them lots of credit for the way they played.”
Worthington’s home game Friday against Redwood Valley is also ‘Meet the Trojans’ Night. Students in grades K-5 who are accompanied by their parents will receive free admission and have a chance to meet the team after the game.
JCC hosts Tracy-Milroy-Balaton Friday.
Jackson County Central 71
Jackson County Central (7-5, 2-4): Christopher 2 0-0 5, Wacker 6 4-5 17, Thaemlitz 1 1-2 4, Hinkeldey 1 1-2 3, Harmening 11 3-6 25, Taylor-Breck 3 3-4 10, Place 0 2-2 2, Hohenstein 2 1-2 5. Totals: 26 15-23 71.
Worthington (7-3, 3-2): Vander Veen 3 3-5 10, Dudley 6 5-6 17, Potter 6 6-7 18, M. Traylor 7 1-1 15, Grafing 9 2-4 24. Totals: 31 17-23 84.
Halftime: Worthington 47, Jackson County Central 35. 3-Point Goals: Jackson County Central 4 (Christopher, Wacker, Thaemlitz, Taylor-Breck); Worthington 5 (Grafing 4, Vander Veen). Rebounds: Jackson County Central 25 (Harmening 15); Worthington 32 (Dudley 11, M. Traylor 11). Assists: Jackson County Central 15 (Wacker 5, Christopher 4); Worthington 12 (Potter 6). Turnovers: Jackson County Central 15, Worthington 14.