GIRLS BASKETBALL: Trojans emerge with victoryWHS holds off Indians despite 33 points from Veldman
WORTHINGTON — Spirit Lake hung around long enough to provide a stiff challenge for Worthington during a non-conference girls basketball game Monday at Worthington High School.
The Trojans, who had built a pair of 15-point leads (32-17 and 78-63), still had to hold off a big second half from K.J. Veldman and the Indians for an 85-78 victory.
Veldman finished with a game-high 33 points — 29 of which came during the final 18 minutes as Spirit Lake trimmed Worthington’s margin to three points (43-40 with 14:55 left) and five points (59-54 with 9:01 remaining and 81-76 with 55 seconds left).
But the Trojans countered with 24 points from Lydia Kemper, 20 more for Paige Gravenhof and connected 26 of 35 times at the free-throw line as Worthington improved to 15-3 overall.
“The press didn’t seem to bother us and we did a nice job of taking the ball to the basket, except for the last 2 minutes” Trojans head coach Eric Lindner said. “We did a pretty decent job of running our stall game late.”
In just 17 attempts at the foul line, Spirit Lake made 12 free throws.
Indians coach Rick Reinking had hoped for a better defensive effort from the Indians.
“If you told me at the beginning of the year that 78 points wouldn’t win every game for us, I probably would have called you a liar,” Reinking said. “I was pretty disappointed in our defensive effort. At times, we were good and, at times, we were just so inconsistent.”
Kemper, who was 9 of 9 at the free-throw line, hit two free throws with 6:05 left before halftime to give Worthington a 32-17 lead. It happened 26 seconds after Gravenhof drained a right-corner 3-pointer as the Trojans were capping a 10-3 run.
“Paige was phenominal at both ends of the floor because every part of her game was clicking,” Lindner said. “Abby (Landgaard) played a complete game by getting her assists, steals and making her free throws at crucial times. Brooke (Henning) finds it difficult to shoot with the mask, but she was still able to get her rebounds. Lydia was consistent by not only scoring, but getting the ball into the hands of our guards.”
Aided by a 9 of 12 effort at the free throw-line, Landgaard scored 11 points and added five assists. Henning pulled down 11 rebounds, including one at the offensive end in the final minute after Landgaard missed a pair of free throws, when the Trojans were clinging to a five-point (83-78) lead. The play led to two successful free throw attempts from Kemper with 5.8 seconds remaining.
Still, the second half belonged to Veldman, who scored only four points during the first 18 minutes.
“We lost (Alissa) Christoffer (to an knee injury) near halftime and that thinned our lineup a little bit,” Reinking said. “K.J. is something else. What can I say? She never had a break in the second half and just played phenominal again. She makes an effort to get her everybody involved and steps up when needed.”
Emma Dau added 12 points for Spirit Lake, which received 10 more from Christoffer and Bailey Loveall. Veldman completed a double-double with 12 rebounds.
“As a player, you want to stay involved and use your teammates to get things done,” Lindner said of Veldman. “I thought (Veldman) was finding the players that she wanted and I thought they made shots early. When she found them in the second half, they didn’t finish a lot of their outside shots. So, she just decided to take the ball to the basket.”
Veldman drain four second-half 3-pointers and added seven more baskets from inside the arc in the second half.
She single-handedly trimmed Worthington’s lead to three points (43-40 and 57-54) on two occasions, first with a pull-up jumper inside the lane with 14:55 left and a right-side 3-pointer as 9 minutes remained.
Lindner said the Trojans’ game plan was to guard Veldman as much as possible, but the Worthington coach knew she would still score.
“We came in with the philosophy of trying to hold her down, but she could still score 20 points becaused she’s just that good of a player,” Linder said.
Ana Boever, who chipped in 14 points for Worthington, scored nine second-half markers. Two of her three 3-point shots came during the final 18 minutes.
The Trojans host Luverne in a Southwest Conference game at 7:30 p.m. today.
WORTHINGTON 85, SPIRIT LAKE 78
SPIRIT LAKE (12-8): Christoffer 4 2-3 10, J. Veldman 1 1-2 4, Newman 1 0-0 2, K.J. Veldman 12 5-6 33, Horsman 0 0-0 0, Hassel 1 0-0 3, Stokke 2 0-0 4, Loveall 4 2-3 10, Dau 4 2-3 12, Kabele 0 0-0 0. Totals: 29 12-17 78.
WORTHINGTON (15-3): Boever 5 1-2 14, Landgaard 1 9-12 11, Henning 2 0-4 4, Kemper 7 9-9 24, Linder 1 0-1 2, Gravenhof 7 5-8 20, Riley 3 0-0 6, Coriolan 1 2-3 4, Alwal 0 0-0 0. Totals: 27 26-35 85.
Spirit Lake 31 47 — 78
Worthington 41 44 — 85
3-Point Goals: Spirit Lake 8 (K.J. Veldman 4, Dau 2, J. Veldman, Hassel); Worthington 5 (Boever 3, Gravenhof, Kemper). Rebounds: Spirit Lake 40 (Loveall 12, Horsman 8, K.J. Veldman 8); Worthington 40 (Henning 11, Boever 8, Coriolan 6). Total Fouls (Fouled Out): Spirit Lake 23 (none); Worthington 16 (none). Technical Fouls: None. Assists: Spirit Lake 19 (K.J. Veldman 4, Horsman 4); Worthington 17 (Landgaard 5, Gravenhof 5). Steals: Spirit Lake 8 (K.J. Veldman 3, Horsman 3); Worthington 13 (Gravenhof 5, Boever 3, Kemper 3). Blocked Shots: Spirit Lake 7 (Stokke 2); Worthington 7 (Coriolan 3, Boever 2). Turnovers: Spirit Lake 23, Worthington 15.