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Trojans dominate Cardinals, 94-61

WORTHINGTON -- Before the Worthington Trojan girls' basket team took to the court Tuesday to face Southwest Conference foe Luverne, head coach Eric Lindner had a few words for his team.

"He said that we need to pick up the intensity and that in order to get where we want to be in the future, we have to start working hard on the floor early," Kaitlin Gerber said.

The Trojans scored early and often in a 94-61 victory over the Cardinals.

"I thought that we played with much better intensity," Lindner said. "We didn't dig that hole like we've been doing. I thought we came out, and we took care of business from buzzer to buzzer, and that's what we need to do."

Worthington (7-0, 14-2) started on a 9-0 run and had a 23-point lead at the halftime break.

"We had trouble keeping up with the pace," Luverne head coach Jason Phelps said. "We did some things all right offensively. In spurts, we handled the pressure OK. Same as always, they are going to be a very aggressive team offensively. Our biggest thing was that we struggled defensively in transition, even after we scored baskets."

For the Trojans, 11 players scored, with Alyssa Smith leading the effort with 17 points.

"With 94 points, you'd think that our primary scorers are doing the majority of the scoring, but Holli (Aggen) and Gabby (Boever) scored just six points (each)," Lindner said.

The Trojan bench players scored 49 points, with just 45 points coming from the starting five.

"You hope they keep that confidence and the intensity, because that's going to help us," Lindner said of his bench. "Anytime you can get deeper as a team, that's going to help us a great deal."

Kayla Schroeder led the Trojans off the bench with 15 points and nine rebounds.

"I hope it clicked, I really do," Lindner said of Schroeder. "That's a kid that's worked pretty hard and finally reaping some benefits from that hard work."

Gerber was another double figure scorer with 11 points.

"I think it was big for us to step up when the girls are in foul trouble," Gerber said. "I think it will help us out in the long run."

After Gabby Boever started the 9-0 run for Worthington, Liberty Robinson finally got Luverne (1-5, 6-8) on the board with a trey.

"Early on, that would have helped a little bit where we had three or four decent looks in the first half, and we got to the free throw line where we didn't convert," Phelps said. "We knew coming in that we'd have to play well, and those things would have to go right to keep it close."

However, the Trojans continued to increase the lead behind a pair of baskets from Smith (six rebounds) and Sarah Boever (nine points, 13 rebounds, four steals) to push the lead to 10 points early.

Christy Van Dyke (10 points) hit a pair of free throws to cut the lead to just eight.

Gerber then scored six of the next 10 Trojan points -- increasing the lead to 23-7.

"I just felt good about it," Gerber said. "A couple of layups went in, and I started attacking the hoop."

Trailing by 15 points midway through the first half, Luverne made its first run of the night.

Robinson started the run with a basket, and after a free throw from Kayla Vander Veen (nine points), consecutive baskets from Callie Sawtelle cut the lead back to 10 points.

"We made a decent run somewhere in the first half, but we were still down 20 at the half," Phelps said. "Playing that second half down 20, you're caught between being aggressive and being able to get back defensively."

Sparked by another basket from Gerber, the Trojans finished the first half on a 12-2 run to take a 49-26 lead at the half.

Worthington continued to push the lead in the second half, and a basket from Schroeder pushed the lead to 30 points, 59-29.

The biggest lead the Trojans managed was 36 points, 76-40 and 86-50, in the second half en route to the 94-61 victory.

"I think we played with a lot more intensity," Gerber said. "It was good for the team to get that boost of great defense."

As a team, Worthington used full-court defense and 19 steals to secure the victory.

"We had no control over the pace, and I'd say that was the biggest indicator of the score," Phelps said. "In small spurts, we did some things well offensively. We moved the ball OK, but defensively, I thought we strolled a lot."

Worthington will be on the court again Thursday at Windom, while Luverne will host Jackson County Central Friday.

Luverne 26 35 -- 61

Worthington 49 45 -- 94

Luverne (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) Robinson 2-3-4-16, Van Dyke 0-4-2-10, Herman 0-2-1-5, K. Sawtelle 1-3-0-9, C. Sawtelle 0-3-1-7, Henke 0-3-1-7, Radd;e 0-1-0-2, Heitkamp 0-2-0-4, Hanson 0-0-1-1. Totals 3-21-10-61.

Worthington (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) G. Boever 0-3-0-6, Aggen 0-2-2-6, Smith 0-8-1-17, Gerber 0-5-1-11, S. Boever 1-3-0-9, Schroeder 0-7-1-15, Vander Veen 0-3-3-9, Pavelko 1-2-0-7, Malmgren 0-3-0-6, Alwal 0-3-0-6, Landgaard 0-1-0-2. Totals 2-40-8-94.