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Girls basketball: Trojans raid Fulda

Brian Korthals/Daily Globe Fulda junior Sariah Cheadle (15) goes inside between several Worthington Trojans for a shot during Thursday night’s girls basketball game in Worthington.1 / 2
Brian Korthals/Daily Globe Worthington’s Achan Alwal (42) takes a shot guarded by Fulda’s Melissa Gehl Thursday.2 / 2

WORTHINGTON — Utilizing a 16-3 first-half run and 14 straight points early in the second half, the well-balanced Worthington Trojans snapped open what had been a close game —for 10 minutes —into an impressive 77-36 victory over Highway 59 rival Fulda Thursday night at the WHS gym.

“Wow, did we play defense,” exclaimed a very happy Trojans’ head coach Eric Lindner while relaxing in his office after the game. “I thought that we got after things very well — good ball pressure and excellent rotation — and did a great job defending both Sariah Cheadle and Melissa Gehl, who are very good players for Fulda.”

Cheadle, a 5-8 junior guard, finished with a team-high 17 points —but most of her shots were challenged and many were off target, as the Trojans effectively limited her good looks at the hoop.

“That was key for us,” Lindner said. “ Cheadle’s able to do a lot with the ball, but our kids did a great job taking the middle away from her and not giving her many easy shots.”

Gehl connected on an early three-pointer, giving the Raiders a 9-7 lead, but did not score a two-point basket all game, which is very rare. Gehl, who has scored 1,021 points in her varsity career, averaged 26 points through Fulda’s first 13 games this season.

The Trojans held her to just seven points before she left the game after sustaining a knee injury with 6:49 left in the second half.

Meanwhile, Worthington’s offense flourished —scoring inside and out, including converting numerous baskets off of steals and muscling up second-chance hoops from offensive rebounds.

“Worthington killed us on the boards,” summed up Fulda head coach Gregg Slaathaug. “They are so strong and athletic. We did what we needed to do to keep the game close as long as we could, but eventually they wore us down and just took over.”

After several lead changes, the Trojans broke from a 14-13 edge with 10 straight points, starting with a nice inside move by Apiew Alwal, followed by three straight baskets —two in a row off putbacks after her own miss — from Brooke Henning and a strong move down low by Ana Boever (assist Abbie Landgaard) to take a 24-13 lead with 2:56 to play in the first half.

Two free throws by Becca Linder, a steal and layup by Paige Gravenhof, a jumper by Landgaard (assist Gravenhof) and a buzzer-beating basket by Linder (bounce pass assist Landgaard) sent the Trojans into intermission with a 32-20 advantage.

Cheadle and freshman Nicole Madison teamed together for the rest of Fulda’s first-half points, as Madison came up with a steal and passed ahead to Cheadle for a layup and Madison drilled a 17-footer off a nice pass from Cheadle, who scored both a free throw and a field goal between those two plays.

Henning finished the first half with 14 points for the Trojans.

Fulda scores first, Trojans net next 14 points

Coming out of the break, the Raiders executed a brilliant backdoor play (Gehl to Cheadle), slicing the lead to 10.

But the Trojans —who had just 10 turnovers in the whole game — responded with their game-changing 14-0 burst, fueled by two inside baskets by Henning, a trio of hoops by Boever and four points, including a nifty pull-up 15-foot jumper by Landgaard.

Leading 46-22 with 14:41 to play, Worthington continued to push the pace and ended up with 11 players scoring in the contest, including double figures from Henning (18), Boever (14), Landgaard (11) and Gravenhof (10).

Gravenhof, who hit Worthington’s only three-pointer of game, finished with five assists, while Boever (six) and Achan Alwal (four) topped the steals’ chart.

Worthington won the battle on the boards by a 47-27 margin, getting 10 rebounds from Linder, nine from Boever and eight from Henning.

The Trojans made more field goals than they missed, hitting 33-of-65, including a remarkable 32-of-54 (59 percent) from inside the arc.

Worthington (12-1) hosts Southwest Christian Monday, seeking to extend its nine-game winning streak.

Fulda (9-5), which had 30 turnovers Thursday and has lost three of its last four games, hosts Murray County Central tonight.

Fulda 20 36

Worthington 32 77

FULDA (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) R.Cheadle 0-1-0-2, Gehl 1-0-4-7, S.Cheadle 0-7-3-17, Zins 0-1-1-3, Madison 1-1-0-5, Holinka 0-1-0-2. Totals 2-11-8-36.

WORTHINGTON (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) Boever 0-7-0-14, Ebbers 0-2-0-4, Landgaard 0-4-3-11, Henning 0-9-0-18, Gerber 0-2-0-4, Bruns 0-1-0-2, Linder 0-1-2-4, Gravenhof 1-3-1-10, Ac. Alwal 0-2-0-4, Ah. Alwal 0-1-0-2, Ap. Alwal 0-2-0-4. Totals 1-32-10-77.