TROJAN GIRLS BASKETBALL: Marshall too much for WorthingtonWORTHINGTON — A trio of impressive runs by the scrappy Worthington Trojans was not enough Saturday night, as the league-leading Marshall Tigers countered each of those surges with bursts of their own and left town with a 72-55 Southwest Conference high school girls’ basketball victory.
By: Les Knutson, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — A trio of impressive runs by the scrappy Worthington Trojans was not enough Saturday night, as the league-leading Marshall Tigers countered each of those surges with bursts of their own and left town with a 72-55 Southwest Conference high school girls’ basketball victory.
The Tigers improved to 20-3 overall and clinched another conference crown as they remain undefeated (11-0) in league games.
Marshall hosts Pipestone Area Tuesday in its conference-finale and faces a key Section 2AAA challenge at Willmar Thursday.
The loss was Worthington’s second straight in conference action, after ratting off eight consecutive overall victories and drops the Trojans to 15-5 overall and 8-3 in the Southwest.
The Trojans host Martin County West (19-3) in a non-conference clash Tuesday between a pair of top-ranked Section 3AA teams, with the upcoming tournament seeding being decided on Wednesday.
Worthington finishes its conference season by hosting Jackson County Central Thursday night.
“Our upcoming game on Tuesday against Martin County West will be huge for us, as far as deciding who gets the top section seed,” exclaimed WHS head coach Eric Lindner, who was pleased with his team’s effort against Marshall Saturday.
“Overall, I was happy with our effort as we played hard the whole game and had two strong runs in the second half, which allowed us to compete well all the way to the end.”
Trojans lead three times in first half
Despite shooting just 26 percent (19-of-74) from the field for the game, the Trojans stayed in contention through much of the second half, trailing by just 12 points (55-43) with five minutes, 37 seconds remaining when Abbie Landgaard’s perfect lead pass Brooke Henning for a layup capped a 9-0 Worthington run.
Those nine straight points — starting with Ana Boever’s third 3-pointer of the game — came over a span of just over two minutes and put the brakes on an 8-0 Marshall run which had given the Tigers a 55-34 advantage with 8:34 on the clock.
In between Boever’s trey and Henning’s layup, Boever had fired a pass ahead to K.C. Riley for a transition jumper and Landgaard (eight points, four assists, three blocks) sank a pair of free throws.
It was the third strong run for the Trojans during the game, as Worthington claimed a 14-13 lead halfway through the first half when Henning (eight points) scored off an assist from Paige Gravenhof (13 points, five assists, three steals), which capped an 11-6 run and gave WHS its third lead of the contest.
Marshall, however, countered with 13 unanswered points over the next five minutes and owned a 26-14 advantage with 4:10 remaining in the first half.
The Tigers, who were paced by the 10 first-half points of 5-11 junior forward Kenzie Beekman, took a 32-18 lead into intermission.
“I was pleased with how we defended in the first half,” declared Marshall head coach Dan Westby. “Holding a good team like Worthington to 18 points in 18 minutes — on their own court — is pretty good.”
Boever, who finished with a game-high 18 points, a team-high 13 rebounds and blocked a trio of shots, swished a 3-pointer from the left wing 38 seconds into the game to open the scoring.
But, the Tigers rattled off an 8-0 run while the Trojans missed several shots, including a couple of air balls, over the next five minutes.
A strong drive by Gravenhof finally got WHS untracked and an assist from Landgaard to Henning sliced Marshall’s lead to 10-7 at the 11:47 mark.
Fifteen seconds later, Gravenhof (assist Landgaard) drilled a 3-pointer and the score was tied at 10.
Worthington took its second lead of the game with 10:50 remaining in the half when Boever scored off an assist from Henning, putting the Trojans up 12-10.
Marshall freshman Lexi Saugstad knocked down a 3-pointer, giving the Tigers a 13-12 edge and — after Landgaard and Henning teamed up to put WHS back in the lead — an offensive-rebound basket by Beekman made the score 15-14 and Marshall never trailed again.
“What hurt us was rushing our offense,” explained Lindner. “We did a nice job against Marshall’s presses, but when we didn’t run our offense through and shot the ball too quickly, we allowed Marshall’s transition game to get going.”
Junior guard Sarah Buysse (17 points, four rebounds, three steals, three assists) scored five points for the Tigers during that 13-0 run, while sophomore forward Morgan Saugstad fired in a 3-pointer from the left corner.
A baseline jumper by Landgaard off a pass from Lydia Kemper (four assists, seven rebounds) finally moved Worthington’s side of the scoreboard again at the 3:43 mark, ending a nearly six-minute scoring drought.
Riley scored the final basket of the first half on a right-side jumper, as Worthington trailed by 14 at the break.
Trojans rally with 13-5 second-half run
Marshall opened the second half on a 7-1 run as Buysse sank four free throws, Beekman (17 points, game-high 14 rebounds, game-high five steals, three assists, three blocks) made one shot from the line and sophomore Callie Graff scored the first field goal after intermission, putting the Tigers up by a 21-point spread, 39-18.
Trailing 42-21 after a 3-pointer by Buysse, the Trojans rallied with their best surge of the game (a 13-5 run) as a putback by Boever, a sweep shot by Landgaard (off an offensive rebound), a 3-pointer by Boever, a basket by Landgaard (assist Kemper), two free throws by Kemper, and a layup by Gravenhof (assist Kemper) sliced Marshall’s lead to 47-34 with 10:50 left.
A 3-pointer by Morgan Saugstad (12 points, five rebounds) and a putback by the ever-versatile Beekman were the only baskets for the Tigers during that impressive three-minute stretch by the Trojans.
“Worthington competed well in the second half,” praised Westby about the Trojans. “I was a little disappointed in our rebounding, but give Worthington credit for crashing the boards and doing a nice job of going to the basket, drawing fouls and getting to the free throw line.”
As they did throughout the game, the Tigers responded to Worthington’s burst with an 8-0 run of their own over the next 2:16, earning their 55-34 lead with 8:34 showing.
The Trojans followed with their 9-0 run, but after getting within 12 points, Marshall put the brakes on Worthington’s comeback with a game-clinching 13-0 run, which was capped by Hannah Bennett’s 3-pointer (assist Kelsey Saugstad) with 2:45 on the clock and the Tigers leading 68-43.
Henning scored 11 seconds later and Kemper fed Apiew Alwal for a basket, slicing the gap to 68-47.
Gravenhof (a driving layup and four free throws) scored six points in the closing minutes, while Boever sank a pair of free throws as the Trojans were 13-of-16 (81 percent) at the line.
Worthington was 4-of-17 (24 percent) on 3-pointers and 15-of-57 (26 percent) inside the arc.
Marshall outrebounded the Trojans by a 44-37 margin, but Worthington worked for 18 offensive boards with most of them coming in the second half.
Turnovers were nearly equal as the Tigers lost possession 19 times and the Trojans turned it over on 17 trips down the court.
Marshall defeated Worthington, 80-47, at Marshall back on Dec. 13, giving Worthington its first loss of the season.
“We played them much better this time,” concluded Lindner. “It was 40-37 in the second half when we did a nice job executing our offense and getting some of the shots we wanted, including free throws.”
MARSHALL (20-3, 11-0): Buysse 4-14 7-9 17, M. Saugstad 3-7 3-4 12, K. Saugstad 3-7 0-0 6, Beekman 8-13 1-2 17, Bennett 2-10 0-0 5, Graff 2-8 2-2 6, L. Saugstad 2-3 0-0 5, Andersen 1-5 2-2 4. Totals 25-67 (37%) 15-19 (79%) 72.
WORTHINGTON (15-5, 8-3): Boever 5-20, 5-7 18, Landgaard 3-6 2-2 8, Henning 4-13 0-1 8, Kemper 0-12 2-2 2, Gravenhof 4-16, 4-4 13, Riley 2-5 0-0 4, Alwal 1-2 0-0 2, Coriolan 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 19-74 (26%) 13-16 (81%) 55.
Marshall 32 40 — 72
Worthington 18 37 — 55
3-Point Goals: Marshall 7 (M. Saugstad 3, Buysse 2, Bennett, L. Saugstad); Worthington 4 (Boever 3, Gravenhof). Rebounds: Marshall 44 (Beekman 14, K. Saugstad 6); Worthington 37 (Boever 13, Kemper 7). Assists: Marshall 17 (Bennett 5); Worthington 16 (Gravenhof 5, Kemper 4, Landgaard 4). Steals: Marshall 16 (Beekman 5, Bennett 3, Buysse 3); Worthington 14 (Gravenhof 3). Turnovers: Marshall 19, Worthington 17.