Worthington ready for third title shot against Marshall
WORTHINGTON -- The Worthington Trojans girls basketball team was chomping at the bit Wednesday during practice. And that was during sprints. Maybe it's all about the opportunity the Trojans have to return to the state Class AAA tournament that ha...
WORTHINGTON -- The Worthington Trojans girls basketball team was chomping at the bit Wednesday during practice. And that was during sprints.
Maybe it's all about the opportunity the Trojans have to return to the state Class AAA tournament that has everyone excited. Worthington (21-3) can reach the state tournament for the second time in three seasons Friday night when it faces the state's No. 1-ranked team, Marshall (26-2), at 7 p.m. on the campus of Gustavus Adolphus in St. Peter.
The two teams have played in the last two sectional finals. Worthington defeated the Tigers in the 2004 final, 52-41, while Marshall won last year's rematch, 57-41.
Of course, what helps add to the motivation for the Trojans is what happened the last time the two teams met on the court: January 24, when host Marshall rolled to a 71-41 victory.
That recent loss helps make this title game all the more meaningful.
"We weren't happy with our showing at Marshall," WHS head coach Eric Lindner said. "We not only want to redeem that, but we want to be able to come into that game and be focused."
Marshall's pressure defense helped lead to Worthington's downfall in their last meeting. During Wednesday's practice, the Trojans worked early on breaking the press, hoping to avoid the pratfalls which cost them on the road.
Another area where the team will need to perform well is on the perimeter. The Trojans were 5-of-18 from 3-point range during Saturday's comeback victory against Litchfield. It was a better performance than against Marshall, when WHS was a cold 2-of-16 shooting.
Marshall, meanwhile, has a solid threat on the perimeter in Julia Schultz. While she scored 11 points, including one 3-pointer against Mankato East, Lindner feels she is the type of player who can help spark an outside attack.
"We're going to have to limit her perimeter looks," he said of Schultz. "She's proven, game in and game out, she can hit those open jump shots."
Another proven star is guard Macie Michelson. The team leader, Michelson can attack with the drive and dish, or step out and hit the outside shot as well. In fact, Michelson hit three 3-pointers against Mankato East, and tallied 21 points against the Trojans in January.
Marshall enters the playoff game Friday with a pair of 30-point playoff victories to its credit. Worthington, meanwhile, received its toughest test against the Dragons in Saturday's semifinal at Gustavus Adolphus.
"It gave us a gut-check," Lindner said. "It tested us, and it was a testament to our kids to get through the tough parts and come through in the end.
"Anytime you're challenged in a game, it helps you prepare for the next game," Lindner added. "Anytime you have a blowout, there are questions about what did you do right and what did you do wrong."
In order for Worthington to win the game Friday, the Trojans must do a better job of taking care of the ball. Any early mistakes could lead to another Marshall runaway.
But if Worthington can get its press going and put Marshall in a tight game, the chances for a mild upset will surely go up.