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Section 2AAA boys basketball: Trojans' season ends in Mankato

MANKATO -- Mankato West is a second-half team.

At least it is against Worthington.

The Scarlets, the No. 4 seed in the 2AAA boys basketball tournament, rallied from a first-half deficit on Wednesday to defeat fifth-seeded Worthington 54-38.

“It was kind of a matter of shots for them were going in and not for us,” WHS head coach Clint Meyer said. “I thought we competed really well defensively, especially in the first half.”

MW (15-12) will advance to the section semifinal against top-seeded Mankato East on Saturday, while the Trojans finish their season with a 15-11 record.

Wednesday’s game started much like the first time the two teams met this season. At the Trojan Holiday Classic, West trailed by 11 at halftime, but came back for a seven-point win.

On Wednesday, a defensive first half saw the Trojans lead 18-15 at the break.

“It’s kind of a combination of good defense and neither team really shot well from the field,” Meyer said. “I think we were nine for 27 in the first half. We did get eight offensive rebounds, so we got some putbacks. They used their length, we had a lot of shots blocked. Both teams played pretty good defense and were forcing tough shots.”

However, much like the late December matchup, the Scarlets had a quick start to the second half. After taking a two-point lead, 26-24, MW scored the next eight points and quickly led by 10, 34-24. However, the Trojans seemed to have an answer.

Galvin Calmus and OD Othow answered to stop the run and Nathan Boneschans later converted on a three-point play to bring the Trojans within seven. Karasharo Ojulu made a shot and Stewart Merrigan put back an offensive rebound for WHS, which was within five points, 40-35.

“We hung pretty tight for most of the second half, they stretched it out to 10 and it took the steam out of us a little bit, especially when the ball is not going in the basket consistently,” Meyer said. “I thought we had pretty good play all around, shots just weren’t falling for us.”

From that point on -- just more than six minutes of game time -- WHS struggled from the field. Othow made a shot and a free throw in the final two minutes, but those were the only points for the Trojans.

Meanwhile, the Scarlets went 11-for-16 from the line to seal the victory.

Early on in Wednesday’s game, the two defenses dominated as neither offense could get much going. Tyler Linder (10 points, eight rebounds) scored four points early as WHS led 6-0. But West answered behind the play of Michael Sathoff.

The Trojans rarely had an answer for the 6-10 Sathoff, who finished with a game-high 17 points. In the first half, he scored nine of West’s first 11 points as it took an 11-6 advantage.

“I thought we did a pretty good job on him, too, denying him the ball and taking things away,” Meyer said of Sathoff. “But when he gets it deep, there’s not a lot you can do when he gets deep position close to the basket. It was a tough matchup for us.”

Terbuto Ochothow made a floater and Linder made another shot before Othow (seven points, five rebounds) connected for two as WHS led 12-11. Dondre Spann -- who was the only other player to score in the first half besides Sathoff for MW -- made two free throws to give the Scarlets back the lead.

Ojulu hit a shot and Boneschans converted from the floor late as the Trojans took an 18-15 lead into the break.

Out of halftime, Ochothow answered West’s first basket, and after shots from the Scarlets’ Spann and Griffin Corbett (10 points), Linder made a basket to maintain a lead. MW’s Kyle Liebl made a triple and Dawson Frericks hit a jumper to push the lead to 26-22. Merrigan answered with a basket to cut the deficit to two, but West responded with what proved to be the game-deciding run.

Worthington 18 38Mankato West 15 54