TROJANS BOYS BASKETBALL: Eagles fly past Trojans, 78-44EDGERTON — Scoring four quick points in the opening 15 seconds and then finishing the first half on an impressive 17-1 run Saturday night, the Southwest Christian Eagles put on a clinic on both ends of the court and claimed a 78-44 victory over the Worthington Trojans in a key non-conference boys’ basketball game in front of a capacity crowd at Southwest Christian High School.
By: Lucas Knutson, Worthington Daily Globe
EDGERTON — Scoring four quick points in the opening 15 seconds and then finishing the first half on an impressive 17-1 run Saturday night, the Southwest Christian Eagles put on a clinic on both ends of the court and claimed a 78-44 victory over the Worthington Trojans in a key non-conference boys’ basketball game in front of a capacity crowd at Southwest Christian High School.
All five of SWC’s starters scored in double figures, and senior guard Dominic Nibbelink broke the school’s record for career assists, as the Eagles (18-1 overall) surged to a commanding 49-23 halftime advantage and built huge leads of 63-26, 68-31, 70-33 and 73-35 to bring the “running clock” rule into effect in the second half.
Nibbelink, who scored 14 of his game-high 18 points in the first half, dished out five assists to move ahead of Ryan Pronk atop the Eagles’ all-time leaderboard.
Nibbelink made back-to-back passes to Nate Pfeifle (13 points, four rebounds) for consecutive 3-pointers early in the second half to break the record and now has 330 passes resulting in Eagle teammates’ baskets in his career.
Other highlights in the dominant performance for SWC included 18 points, seven rebounds and five shot blocks from Leighton Sampson, 14 points and four rebounds from Klint Knutson, and 10 points, six rebounds and three steals from Eric Talsma, as the state-ranked Eagles (third in Class A) combined solid offensive balance with tremendous team defensive pressure to roll to the large-margin victory —- their 14th straight win this season.
“We didn’t expect the game to turn out the way it did, as we have a ton of respect for Worthington and Coach Vorwald,” SWC head coach Jamie Pap said. “But we came out and played unselfish basketball, as all five of our starters can score and they don’t care who scores. Our guys played hard and our defensive pressure was also really good.”
Worthington (13-6) had 10 players crack the scoring column and saw its recent four-game winning streak come to an end, as the Trojans were unable to compete with the highly-regarded Eagles.
“SWC is a really good team and they played at a very high level —- and we didn’t,” Worthington head coach Ron Vorwald said. “They played great defense and took us out of a lot of things that we normally like to do and are able to do against most teams. It was a good old-fashioned butt-kicking and a long night for the Trojans, that’s for sure.”
It didn’t take long for the Eagles —- who had 19 team assists and scored in a variety of ways all night long —- to assume control of the action, as Pfeifle chased down the game’s opening tip and scored just four seconds in. Talsma followed up with a breakaway layup off a steal at midcourt 11 seconds later, as it was 4-0 SWC at the 17:45 mark of the first half.
Worthington answered with baskets by Jon Vorwald (seven points) and Morgan Traylor (nine points, six rebounds) to tie the score with 16:32 remaining.
Pfeifle then hit a 3-pointer from the right corner to trigger a 14-4 run for the Eagles, who led 18-8 with 11:20 to go. Both Sampson and Nibbelink had a pair of baskets in that stretch, while Talsma converted a nifty 3-point play off a steal.
Vorwald and Josh Vander Veen each connected on a 3-pointer to put the brakes on that run, as Worthington was within six (20-14) at the 10:26 mark. Marcus Potter (six points, four assists) and Will Dudley (eight points) both netted a mid-range shot to keep the Trojans close (down 27-20) a bit later.
A 3-pointer by Nibbelink and a low-post basket by Sampson made it 32-20 before Potter sliced through the lane for a hoop to make it 32-22 with 5:03 on the clock.
But Potter’s basket was the last one of the half for the Trojans, as the Eagles closed on a 17-1 burst to go into the locker room up 49-23. Two free throws by Knutson at the 3:23 mark started the scoring for SWC in that 16-point run.
The Eagles forced a few turnovers and ran the floor beautifully in that sequence, beginning with a Pfeifle-to-Talsma-back to-Pfeifle fast-break basket and a Nibbelink breakaway layup off a long defensive rebound and lead pass by Talsma.
Another breakaway layup by Nibbelink —- following a shot block by Sampson and lead pass from Clayton Huisken (four assists) —- preceded a bucket by Talsma off a scrappy steal and pass from Huisken in the backcourt.
Knutson added a driving basket and a sweet bounce-pass assist to Sampson for a hoop down low, while Nibbelink buried a left-wing 3-pointer with 10 seconds remaining to cap a lopsided finish to the first half.
The dominance carried over to start the second half, as a 14-3 Eagles’ run extended the bulge to 63-26 at the 13:42 mark. Sampson scored twice in the paint, and Pfeifle knocked down two 3-pointers from the left wing off assists from Nibbelink before SWC turned in perhaps its two best plays of the night.
Talsma led a slick 3-on-1 break and passed off to Nibbelink for a basket, while Sampson took a pass from Nibbelink while cutting down the lane and went up for a two-handed slam dunk.
It was later 70-33 at the 10:20 mark when Huisken made a bounce-pass assist to Nibbelink for a basket on a backdoor cut along the baseline — giving SWC 70 points in less than 26 minutes of play (an average of about 2.7 points per minute).
The score remained 70-33 for more than five minutes, and the Trojans outscored the Eagles 11-8 to end the game. Back-to-back 3-point plays by Randy Traylor (five points) and Brandon Gray sparked Worthington late in the game.
Jake Weg, Carter Lindner and Spencer Grafing rounded out the scoring by hitting a free throw apiece for the Trojans, while Jake Robinson (3-pointer) and Jay DeBoer (interior basket) scored late for the Eagles.
Both teams play league games Tuesday night. Worthington visits Jackson County Central in an important Southwest Conference matchup, and SWC hosts Murray County Central in a Red Rock Conference clash.
SOUTHWEST CHRISTIAN 78,
WORTHINGTON (13-6): Gray 1 1-1 3, Vorwald 3 0-0 7, Vander Veen 1 0-0 3, Dudley 4 0-0 8, Potter 3 0-0 6, M. Traylor 4 1-4 9, Grafing 0 1-2 1, R. Traylor 2 1-1 5, Weg 0 1-2 1, Lindner 0 1-2 1. Totals: 18 6-12 44.
SW CHRISTIAN (18-1): Pfeifle 5 0-0 13, Knutson 5 3-5 14, D. Nibbelink 8 0-0 18, Robinson 1 0-0 3, Talsma 4 2-3 10, Sampson 8 2-4 18, DeBoer 1 0-0 2. Totals: 32 7-12 78.
Worthington 23 21 — 44
SW Christian 49 29 — 78
3-Point Goals: Worthington 2 (Vorwald, Vander Veen); Southwest Christian 7 (Pfeifle 3, D. Nibbelink 2, Knutson, Robinson). Rebounds: Worthington 19 (M. Traylor 6); Southwest Christian 31 (Sampson 7, Talsma 6, Pfeifle 4, Knutson 4). Assists: Worthington 8 (Potter 4); Southwest Christian 19 (D. Nibbelink 5, Huisken 4, Talsma 4). Turnovers: Worthington 19, Southwest Christian 12.