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Late run propels Trojans past Scarlets

WORTHINGTON -- With a 14-0 run over a span of six minutes in the second half, the Worthington Trojans came away with a 71-65 victory over Mankato West in a critical girls' basketball section game Tuesday night.

"This is big," Worthington head coach Eric Lindner said. "This puts us one up on them in the sections, and we're one up on Marshall. We're basically done with our section games until we see Marshall again, and we know that they are going to be ready for us at their place."

Worthington (12-2) was 19-of-32 from the free throw line, while Mankato West (10-4) was three-of-14.

Holli Aggen was nearly perfect from the charity stripe, making eight-of-nine shots, including four shots at the end to seal the victory.

Alyssa Smith scored 15 points, with nine of those points coming from the line.

"I knew that since I wasn't hitting my inside shots, I had to do something to stay on the floor, so free throws helped," Smith said.

Even facing taller players, the Trojans outrebounded the Scarlets, 44-38, due in large part to Sarah Boever's 17 rebounds.

"I think Sarah did a very good job of not being able to be boxed out," Lindner said.

"I thought she moved and cut and did everything that she needed to do to secure the position. The nice thing about it was that she just didn't rebound and hold it, she rebounded it and looked to push the basketball."

After Katie Lauer (21 points) hit a shot to start the scoring for the Scarlets, Aggen (21 points, eight rebounds, three steals) hit a trey to give Worthington its first lead of the night.

However, another basket from Lauer and a 3-pointer from Abby Rothenbuehler, MW had a 7-3 advantage.

Rothenbuehler, a 6-2 post, finished with 19 points, 17 rebounds and two blocks.

"I was scared coming in because last year I got blocked twice in a row," Smith said. "So I knew she was going to be tough."

A 3-pointer from the right wing from Rachel Pavelko tied the game at 8-all, but the Scarlets went on an 8-2 run to take a 16-10 lead.

A shot from Ashley Veroeven (eight points) later in the half pushed the MW lead to 10 points, but Gabby Boever (19 points) hit consecutive treys to cut the lead.

Worthington closed the first half on an 8-4 run, but trailed, 39-33 at the break.

"I thought we played real well, in the first half especially," Mankato West head coach Mark Schmiesing said. "I think we got a little fatigued late in the game. A couple of our guards weren't able to get off the floor for a breather because of our foul trouble, so they were playing a little fatigued."

With players on both teams in foul trouble, Gabby Boever hit three consecutive shots for Worthington to tie the game at 39-all.

"We played really slow the first half, but we came back the second half after the locker room halftime talk," Smith said.

However, after a pair of baskets for both teams, MW went on an 8-2 run to push the Scarlet lead to 50-43.

Following Aggen's fourth foul with 11:32 remaining, Kaitlin Gerber hit a pair of shots to cut the lead to three points.

Sarah Boever and Smith (nine rebounds, four steals) would both pick up their fourth fouls in the next two minutes, forcing Boever, Smith, Aggen and Pavelko, who picked up her fourth foul in the first half, to the bench.

"I think when you look at the foul situation, I think that worked out in our favor. I thought Mankato West had some crucial people foul out," Lindner said. "(Ashley) Veroeven was a real key to what they did, and then the Lauer girl fouled out. Those were two crucial girls that we had on the bench."

None of the Worthington players fouled out, but the Trojans adjusted their defense to accommodate.

"Four of us had four fouls, so we were playing more of a help defense rather than a close, tight defense," Sarah Boever said. "We pretty much just used our speed and we play up the line, on the line, and just help defense. We fronted the post and have backside help."

Veroeven fouled out with 7:30 remaining -- with the Scarlets clinging to a 61-53 lead.

However, a pair of Smith free throws started the 14-0 run that would decide the game.

"I think part of it was that we didn't some kids the rest that they should have," Schmiesing said of the drought. "But again, we had good looks. We had some nice cuts and we had some nice looks in the paint and from beyond the arc. They just weren't falling for us. You have to give Worthington credit, they played solid defense for the game, and they really pushed the ball."

Lauer would break the run with a basked in the final 1:30, but fouled out less than 30 seconds later.

Rothenbuehler made the final basket for the Scarletts, but a pair of Aggen free throws sealed a 71-65 victory.

"I thought it was a game of two halves," Lindner said. "In the first half we didn't defend as well as we needed to, and I thought in the second half we did a much better job of defending."

With the victory, Worthington is a game up on MW in the section.

"It's a great win actually," Sarah Boever said. "It boosts our confidence way up."

Worthington will be on the road Friday at Redwood Valley.

MW 33 32 -- 65

WHS 39 32 -- 71

Mankato West (3FG-2FG-FT-TP): Lauer 1-8-2-21, Rothenbuehler 2-5-1-19, Downs 0-3-0-6, Henke 0-1-0-2, Zrust 0-2-0-4, Veroeven 0-4-0-8, Rosenstiel 0-1-0-2, Schemmel 1-0-0-3. Totals 4-25-3-65.

WHS (3FG-2FG-FT-TP): Aggen 1-5-8-21 Pavelko 1-0-0-3, G.Boever 2-6-1-19, Smith 0-3-9-15, Vanderveen 1-0-0-3, S. Boever 1-0-1-4, Gerber 0-2-0-4, Schroeder 0-1-0-2. Totals 6-17-19-71.