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Section 2AAA boys basketball: Trojans getting due attention now

WORTHINGTON — No more flying under the radar for the Worthington Trojans boys basketball team.

Mankato West head coach Tom Boone, whose team plays the Trojans tonight (March 1) in the semifinals of the Section 2AAA tournament, is very much aware of the danger the 9-14 Trojans pose for his 17-8 Scarlets.

“I hope they cool off from Tuesday, holy buckets!” he said Friday afternoon.

Worthington’s dramatic 55-point second-half outburst Tuesday in a 92-88 come-from-behind victory over Willmar certainly got Boone’s attention. To him, it serves as further motivation to be prepared for tonight’s game, set for a 7:45 p.m. tip-off at Taylor Center in Minnesota State University, Mankato.

A sizzling long-range shooting performance by Worthington’s Spencer Grafing (who scored 30 points), another fine offensive performance by guard Marcus Potter (23 points) and clutch free throws down the stretch wrapped up what essentially a spirited defensive performance by the underdog Trojans Tuesday.

Tonight, the sixth-seeded Trojans will be underdogs again against No. 2. West. But Boone is determined to be ready for a replay of Tuesday night.

To win, he said, his Scarlets will need to control Potter’s skills at penetration. They’ll need to play good defense against what he calls a “potpourri” of players who can sink three-pointers. He wants to limit easy baskets for the Trojans and — to wrap up his wish list in a bow — stop the game from becoming a “track meet.”

The Scarlets and Trojans have not met in a game during the 2013-14 regular season, although West did compete in the Trojans’ holiday tournament.

Mankato West is led offensively by sophomore forward Jake Dale, who averages around 18 points per game. Five or six other players average around nine points per game. The Scarlets have a deep bench. Boone will put 10 or 11 players on the floor during a contest.

“It’s always somebody else stepping up,” he says.

When the Big Nine Conference team is performing well, it’s out-rebounding opponents by double-digits. It’s disrupting opponents by keeping them out of what Boone calls “their scoring zones.” Boone says the Scarlets can score quickly, but their just as happy to be patient.

In the other section semifinal game today, also at Taylor Center, top-seeded Marshall takes on No. 4 Mankato East at 6 p.m. The winners of tonight’s games play for a state tournament berth at 7 p.m. Thursday at Taylor Center.

Doug Wolter

Doug Wolter is the Daily Globe sports editor. He served as sports reporter, then sports editor, news editor and finally managing editor at the Daily Globe for 22 years before leaving for seven years to work as night news editor at the Mankato Free Press in Mankato. Doug now lives in Worthington with his wife, Sandy. They have three children and seven grandchildren. Doug, retired after a lengthy career in fast-pitch softball, enjoys reading, strumming his acoustic guitar and hanging around his grandchildren. He also writes books on fiction. Two of his stories, "The Genuine One" and "The Old Man in Section 129" have been distributed through a national publisher.

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