TROJAN GIRLS BASKETBALL: Cardinals clip TrojansWORTHINGTON — In a thrilling girls basketball game, the Luverne Cardinals edged the Worthington Trojans in overtime by a score of 68-66 in the Southwest Conference on Tuesday.
By: Lance Knutson, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — In a thrilling girls basketball game, the Luverne Cardinals edged the Worthington Trojans in overtime by a score of 68-66 in the Southwest Conference on Tuesday.
Following a first half that saw Worthington jump out to a nine-point lead (12-3) in the game’s first 4 minutes, the Cardinals battled back and cut the lead to one (29-28) by halftime.
The Cardinals, who took their first lead on their first possession of the second half, gained as large as a seven-point lead (44-37 and 46-39) before the Trojans rallied to force overtime on a pair of Brooke Henning free throws in the final minute of regulation.
In the extra frame, Henning won the tipoff and reclaimed the lead for the Trojans, flashing to the left block and receiving an Abbie Landgaard pass for a 61-59 lead.
Kaitlin Wohnoutka, who scored a game-high 22 points, scored the first six Cardinals’ points of the extra period, but the visitors still trailed by one with 1:44 left after Paige Gravenhof turned a Henning steal into a layup at 2:22 and Ana Boever knocked down a top-of-the-key 3 at 1:52.
Luverne freshman guard Morgan Haugen scored the eventual game-winning basket on a layup with 24 seconds remaining when she received a Wohnoutka pass across the lane for a 67-66 lead.
“Worthington jumped out on us, but we did a nice job of coming back and getting it close by halftime,” Cardinals head coach Corey Nelson said. “We stuck with our game plan and got to the hoop. Our plan coming in was to get to the basket and try to get to the free-throw line.
“We got that seven-point lead and Worthington kept pressuring us and coming back. They just kept attacking us. We got the lead back again and they came back at us one more time and tied the game. (Worthington) had all the momentum going into overtime and we got fortunate to get that run out there on a rebound to get that layup to put us ahead.”
Worthington’s ensuing possession after Haugen’s go-ahead bucket was stopped when Tara Sudenga garnered a steal on a pass into the post.
Sudenga, who finished with 15 points and seven rebounds and knocked down a pair of 3’s in the final 2 minutes of the first half that cut the Trojans’ lead to one, made 1 of the 2 free-throw shots after being fouled with 10 seconds left following her steal.
Worthington had time for a final shot, but Paige Gravenhof’s 3 before the final buzzer clanged off the iron, allowing the Cardinals to head home with the victory.
“Tara did a nice job of getting over there and she double-teamed the pass into the post,” Nelson said. “We didn’t exactly execute our game plan at the end because we were trying to stay tight on No. 32 (Gravenhof) the whole night. That was the plan on her and we were also trying to stay up tight on (Ana) Boever, but (the Trojans) got an open look and, fortunately for us, they missed it.”
Luverne improved to 12-10 overall and 6-4 in the league with the win. Nelson hopes that the victory bolstered the Cardinals’ resume heading towards the postseason.
“This (win) is huge,” Nelson added. “We talked about this for our seeding. We are hoping to move up into the No. 4 spot and the only way, I think, that we were able to do that was to come over here and beat Worthington.
“Now we just need to finish the year off. We have to win out, I think, and hopefully the rest of the coaches in the section will see that. We are playing well right now. We’ve won five of our last six games, so we are starting to hit our stride right now.”
Landgaard and Lydia Kemper sparked Worthington’s early surge for the 12-3 lead as Landgaard scored on a drive and added two free throws, while Kemper also made two free throws and knocked down a 3.
Boever capped the Trojans’ largest lead with a left-corner 3 off a Gravenhof assist with 14:23 left in the first half.
Kemper led the Trojans in scoring with 20 points and five steals, while Boever finished with 13 points and seven rebounds. Landgaard added 12 points and eight assists, Henning finished with 10 points and Gravenhof totaled eight points and seven rebounds to round out Worthington’s top contributors in the game.
Following the Trojans’ nine-point bulge, Luverne slowing chipped away at the lead as McKayla Schilling, Sudenga and Amanda Barnhart all scored points in the paint to cut the lead to 15-9 at 8:50 of the first half.
Worthington again pushed the lead to nine at 20-11 after a Boever 3 from the left wing, but Wohnoutka started to heat up, scoring 9 of the next 11 Luverne markers to trim the lead to 22-20 with 4:40 before halftime.
A Kemper 3 off an Apiew Alwal assist and an Alwal putback basket helped Worthington maintain a two-possession lead before Sudenga’s 3’s trimmed the margin to one at the break.
“Luverne hit some 3’s some at crucial times and we didn’t get enough 2’s,” Trojans head coach Eric Lindner said. “We didn’t get enough inside play and we didn’t get the ball inside enough and penetrate enough. (Luverne) was more aggressive to the basket than we were.”
Schilling, who totaled a line of 10 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and four steals, gave Luverne its first lead of the night 22 seconds into the second half.
The score went back-and-forth for much of the second half and overtime with six tie scores and 11 lead changes.
Haugen, who scored 12 points off the bench for the Cardinals, capped off a 9-4 run with a baseline jumper that gave Luverne a 46-39 lead with 9:56 left in regulation. The freshman guard also added two baskets in the final 3 minutes that helped the visitors stretch the lead to 57-51 late.
“Morgan Haugen stepped up and nailed some crucial shots towards the end of regulation to put us up,” Nelson said.
Henning made a pair of baskets during back-to-back Trojans’ possession to trim the lead to 57-55 with 1:28 left in the second half.
Sudenga put Luverne back up by four with 1:14 left, but Boever answered 10 seconds later with a 15-foot jumper prior to Henning’s free throws that tied the game at 59.
Worthington dropped to 15-4 overall and 8-2 in the SWC with the loss.
“(Luverne) played us in a zone (in the first half) and made us be disciplined,” Lindner said. “That’s one thing we were (in Monday’s 85-78 win over Spirit Lake) and then (Tuesday) we weren’t disciplined. We were jacking shots from all over the place. We needed to be more disciplined, especially in those crucial situations.
“But this is a good learning experience for us. It’s got to the point where the girls think that they can just outshoot everybody and they are going to have to learn that it’s not about shooting — it’s about executing and playing defense.”
Worthington hosts conference-leading Marshall on Saturday, while Luverne hosts Redwood Valley Friday.
LUVERNE (12-10, 6-4): Wohnoutka 8 5-9 22, Schilling 4 2—4 12, Stanley 0 0-0 0, Rust 1 0-2 3, Dohlmann 1 0-0 2, Haugen 6 0-0 12, Barnhart 1 2-2 4, Sudenga 6 1-3 15. Totals: 27 10-20 68.
WORTHINGTON (15-4, 8-2): Boever 5 0-0 13, Landgaard 4 4-4 12, Henning 4 2-2 10, Kemper 6 5-6 20, Linder 0 0-0 0, Gravenhof 3 0-0 8, Riley 0 0-0 0, Coriolan 0 1-2 1, Alwal 1 0-0 2. Totals: 23 12-14 66.
Luverne 28 31 9 — 68
Worthington 29 30 7 — 66
3-Point Goals: Away 4 (Sudenga 2, Wohnoutka, Rust); Home 8 (Boever 3, Kemper 3, Gravenhof 2). Rebounds: Luverne 31 (Schilling 10, Sudenga 7); Worthington 42 (Boever 7, Gravenhof 7). Total Fouls (Fouled Out): Luverne 13 (None); Worthington 20 (None). Technical Fouls: None. Assists: Luverne 9 (Schilling 5); Worthington 14 (Landgaard 8). Steals: Luverne 16 (Haugen 5, Schilling 4); Worthington 15 (Kemper 5). Blocked Shots: Luverne 0 (None); Worthington 11 (Boever 7). Turnovers: Luverne 18, Worthington 20.