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Trojan boys and girls victorious

LUVERNE -- Matt King and Mike Vorwald each scored 16 points and came up with some key second-half plays Tuesday night, helping the Worthington Trojans earn a 61-54 victory over the Luverne Cardinals in a Southwest Conference boys' basketball game.

"It's big anytime you come away with a road victory in this conference," Worthington head coach Ron Vorwald said afterwards. "Luverne's defense gave us some problems, but we were able to respond and handle things well down the stretch."

Weston Sawtelle (five rebounds) scored a game-high 27 points to pace the Cardinals, who switched defenses several times and forced the Trojans to turn the ball over 20 times.

Worthington built a 56-40 lead with 4:09 left to play, as King knocked down four perimeter jumpers, and Vorwald had a hand in a pair of hoops to help the Trojans go on a 14-6 surge midway through the second half.

However, Luverne battled back with a 10-0 burst to make it a six-point game (56-50) with just over a minute remaining.

After Josh Boomgaarden (four steals, three points) made a free throw and Jeremy Hoff (eight points, five rebounds) scored on a quick baseline drive, Sawtelle scored seven straight points over a span of 1:37 to spark the Cardinals' rally.

Two three-pointers from the left wing -- including one from five feet beyond the arc with 1:02 left -- sandwiched a free throw by Sawtelle, making it a two-possession game.

Worthington's Travis Meinders (eight points, three steals) made two free throws with 55 seconds left to push the lead to 58-50, but Sawtelle answered with a jumper from the right elbow nine seconds later.

Luverne then forced a turnover, and Sawtelle got another good look from three-point range. His shot was off the mark, and Meinders made two more free throws after being fouled with 28.6 seconds left to give Worthington a 60-52 margin.

Kyle Heronimus (nine points, seven assists) then made a nice bounce pass to a cutting Trever Stoffel (seven points, five rebounds) down the lane for a hoop, again trimming Worthington's lead to six (60-54) with 17.1 seconds left.

But Worthington held on, as Kent Knutson (10 points) made a free throw, and King drew a charge on the defensive end in the final 12 seconds to seal the victory.

The game began with four lead exchanges, as Hoff scored a basket in the paint, and Heronimus scored on a pair of quick drives to account for Luverne's first six points.

Worthington received early points from Vorwald on a three-pointer in the right corner, Joe Ahrens (eight rebounds, six points) on a drive-and-dish from Vorwald, and King on a 17-footer from the left wing to take a 7-6 edge with 13:45 remaining before halftime.

The Trojans then outscored the Cardinals 13-0 over the next five minutes -- mounting a 20-6 lead by the nine-minute mark.

Meinders started the surge with a 15-foot jumper on the right wing, and Adou Omot (five points) connected on a 12-footer in the lane.

Two three-point plays -- one by Vorwald on a give-and-go with Meinders, and one by Knutson on an assist from Vorwald (eight assists) -- and a three-pointer by King also triggered the Trojans in that stretch.

Luverne stayed in the game by cutting the deficit to six (31-25) by halftime, as Sawtelle scored all 15 of his first-half points in the final 8:22 to spearhead the Cardinals' attack.

Sawtelle pumped in his points in a variety of ways, as he scored on four three throws, a deep three-pointer, a fade-away 18-footer on the left wing, a baseline drive and a pair of nifty drives through the lane.

"This was a very nice effort by our kids, as we didn't give up after falling behind by 14 points in the first half," Luverne head coach Tom Rops said. "We played with good defensive intensity and were able to make a few runs throughout the game to give ourselves a chance at the end."

Another bucket by Sawtelle to begin the second half sliced Worthington's lead to four (31-27), but the Trojans scored nine of the next 11 points to regain a double-digit lead (40-29) with 12:29 to play.

Knutson scored twice in that run, while Ahrens scored in the paint, and Vorwald drilled a three-pointer.

Worthington later extended its 42-34 lead to 56-40 over the ensuing eight-plus minutes to set up the game's final action.

King (four rebounds) nailed a three-pointer and a trio of 18-foot jumpers from out top after feeding Knutson for a basket, and Vorwald scored on a flex cut and pass from Meinders before slipping an assist to Ahrens for a bucket to spark Worthington in that sequence.

Worthington (2-0, 3-1) visits Marshall in a key conference game Friday, while Luverne (0-2, 1-3) hosts Adrian the same night.

Worthington 31 30 -- 61

Luverne 25 29 -- 54

WORTHINGTON (3PT-2PT-FT-TP): Vorwald 2-3-4-16, Meinders 0-1-6-8, Omot 0-2-1-5, Knutson 0-4-2-10, King 2-4-2-16, Ahrens 0-3-0-6. Totals: 4-17-15-61.

LUVERNE (3PT-2PT-FT-TP): Stoffel 1-1-2-7, J. Hoff 0-4-0-8, Sawtelle 3-6-6-27, Boomgaarden 0-1-1-3, Heronimus 0-4-1-9. Totals: 4-16-10-54.

Worthington 73, JCC 63

JACKSON -- Rallying with better rebounding and more defensive pressure, the Worthington Trojan girls' basketball team remained undefeated Tuesday night with a 73-63 Southwest Conference victory over Jackson County Central.

JCC (1-1, 4-4) had closed out the first half with a 26-12 run, turning an early 17-11 deficit into a 36-29 lead at the break.

But the Trojans (3-0, 6-0) worked their way back and took the lead with just over 10 minutes to play.

"We rebounded much better in the second half," WHS head coach Eric Lindner said. "Our defensive ball pressure got better and we really improved our backside help defense."

Lindner was also pleased with how Worthington played after earning the lead.

"We ran kind of a circle offense in the second half," the coach explained. "We spread the floor, took care of the ball and worked the clock. The girls executed well and made the clutch free throws down the stretch. This was a good effort and a nice win for us."

JCC took the lead in the first half on the strength of its inside game, as Brooke Burmeister (18 points, six rebounds) was a force for the Huskies in the paint.

Megan Bezdicek (16 points) showed her versatility for JCC by sinking a pair of 3-pointer, scoring inside and handling the ball well.

"The Huskies really punched the ball inside well in the first," noted Lindner. "But we defended that better in the second half and Rachel Pavelko really put the pressure on their point guard, which helped our whole defensive scheme."

Worthington put four players in double figures, as Holli Aggen netted a game-high 24 points, Gabby Boever scored 17 and both Sarah Boever and Alyssa Smith each notched 15 points.

Aggen knocked a trio of 3-pointers and sank 7-of-8 free throws for the Trojans, who were 17-of-23 at the line for the game.

Sarah Boever had seven rebounds and five steals for the Trojans, while Pavelko and Smith each had six rebounds.

Anna Meneely and Whitney Burmeister both had six rebounds for the Huskies, while scoring eight and six points, respectively.

Gabby Boever was charted with four assists and Smith came up with four steals for Worthington, which hosts Marshall in a key conference clash Thursday.

JCC 36 27 -- 63

WHS 29 44 -- 73

JCC (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) Kaubus 0-1-0-2, Bezdicek 2-5-0-16, Kruse 0-3-1-7, Meneely 1-1-3-8, Rentschler 0-2-2-6, W.Burmeister 0-2-2-6, B.Burmeister 0-8-2. Totals 3-22-10-63.

WHS (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) S.Boever 1-6-15, Aggen 3-4-7-24, G.Boever 2-4-3-17, Pavelko 0-0-1-1, Smith 0-5-5-15, Vander Veen 0-0-1. Totals 6-19-17-73.