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Marshall stays out of reach

WORTHINGTON -- Going on an 11-0 run midway through the second half Thursday night, the Marshall Tigers won their Southwest Conference boys' basketball opener on the road against Worthington, 55-46.

"I was very happy with our defensive effort tonight," Worthington head coach Ron Vorwald said following the game. "We came out aggressive and took things away from Marshall."

Both teams started out a little flat offensively, but much of that was a result of the defensive intensity and pressure each club brought from the opening tip.

Mike Vorwald drilled a pair of 3-pointers -- a swisher from each wing -- in the game's first six minutes to key Worthington to an early 8-6 lead.

Joel Olson (19 points, 15 rebounds) later hit a smooth turnaround jumper from the baseline to put Worthington up 10-8 with 11:02 left in the first half.

Nearly three minutes later, Marshall (1-0, 2-1) took an 11-10 lead -- one it would not relinquish the rest of the game -- on a pair of free throws by Ben Blomme (nine points).

Two straight steals led to layups by Nathan Baumann (10 points) to give Marshall a 15-10 lead with 7:26 showing on the clock.

Worthington (0-1, 0-2) came back with a pair of buckets from Kent Knutson, and a nice pull-up jumper by Adou Omot (three assists), making the score 17-16 in favor of Marshall with 5:46 left in the first half.

Marshall's Beau Bredeson responded by drilling a 3-pointer, sparking the Tigers on a 7-2 run to close the half with a 24-18 lead.

Worthington scored the second half's first four points as Omot and Olson -- who would score 17 of his game-high 19 points in the final 18 minutes -- each made a hoop to cut Marshall's lead to 24-22 with two minutes gone.

Bredeson answered with another trey before Vorwald hit a floater in the lane, keeping Worthington within three at 27-24 with 14:55 left in the game.

Olson later hit a hook shot in the lane before he drove and kicked to Omot for a 17-footer, bringing Worthington to within one (29-28) with 11:56 remaining.

That's when Marshall turned it on, scoring the next 11 points to open up its second largest lead of the game (40-28) with 8:36 left.

Taylor Hedman started the surge with an 18-foot jump shot from the top of the key before Tyler Gimmestad grabbed an offensive rebound and converted a 3-point play to put the Tigers up 34-28.

Baumann later canned a 3-pointer, and Blomme hit a free throw before finding Jacob Carrow with a perfect bounce pass across the lane for a bucket to cap the run.

"I thought we played with a little more energy on offense in the second half," said Marshall head coach Tom Critchley, Jr. "Worthington always plays good defense, and we finally started to hit some shots."

Following the run, Olson turned in three outstanding plays to fuel the Trojans, as he first scored on a beautiful spin move in the lane.

On Marshall's ensuing possession, he drew a charge on Gimmestad, and followed that up with a pretty reverse layup just seven seconds later, as Vorwald broke Marshall's press with the dribble and found Olson on the baseline.

"We need Joel on the court," coach Vorwald said. "He had some foul trouble in the first half, but he came back with a very strong second half."

Those three plays brought the Trojans to within eight (40-32) with 7:50 left, but Alex Christianson hit two mid-range jumpers to help put Marshall back up by 12 (46-34) with five minutes left.

A three-point play by Brandon Stacken with 3:14 to go gave the Tigers their largest lead (51-38) of the game.

Worthington fought back to within seven (51-44) with 1:14 left, as Travis Meinders came up with a steal and found Olson for a fast-break layup to key the rally.

Marshall then closed out the victory by going four-for-six from the free throw line.

Marshall hosts Waconia Saturday, while Worthington visits Adrian the same night.

Marshall 24 31 -- 55

Worthington 18 28 -- 46

Marshall (3FG-2FG-FT-TP): Mathiowetz 0-2-0-4, Bredeson 2-0-2-8, Hedman 0-1-0-2, Christianson 0-3-1-7, Stacken 0-2-4-8, Carrow 0-1-0-2, Baumann 1-3-1-10, Blomme 0-1-7-9, Gimmestad 0-1-3-5. Totals: 3-14-18-55.

Worthington (3FG-2FG-FT-TP): Vorwald 2-1-0-8, Meinders 0-0-1-1, Omot 0-3-0-6, Knutson 0-3-0-6, Dudley 0-3-0-6, Olson 0-9-1-19. Totals: 2-19-2-46.