WORTHINGTON -- The Worthington High girls basketball team has won at times this winter thanks to sweet shooting.
On Friday night the Trojans prevailed behind extra effort.
Junior center Sophie Wietzema had eight points and 13 rebounds and freshman post Tarren Spartz contributed seven points in a decisive second-half run as the Trojans hit the boards and hit the floor en route to a 69-40 over the Redwood Valley Cardinals.
Senior wing Madisyn Huisman scored 13 points and flashy sophomore point guard Brooklyn Scheitel-Taylor contributed 11 points off the bench as the Trojans of coach Eric Lindner improved to 13-10 overall and 8-4 in the Big South Conference.
The Trojans led throughout and put the game away with a 13-2 run early in the second half that showcased the team’s defensive intensity, rebounding dominance and balance.
“Who are you going to take away?” Lindner asked with a smile. “That’s the big thing about balance. We had a lot of contributions from a lot of kids.”
Wietzema, a 5-foot-11 center, ignited the tell-tale flurry with a rebound basket. Then Huisman scored following a steal. Wietzema scored on another putback and then Spartz connected from 3-point range.
Spartz, a 5-10 freshman, finished with nine points.
“There’s no fear in that kid,” Lindner said.
The same goes for Wietzema.
“Sophie gives us a lot of second-chance baskets and at the defensive end she bails us out a lot of times,” Lindner said. “She fights.”
Haley Garman, a 6-0 junior center, had 17 points and 12 rebounds for the Cardinals (8-18, 4-8). No one else scored more than six.
“I like where we’re at right now,” Spartz said.
The Trojans led by nine at halftime, but saved their most impressive play for the second half.
“We had a lot of intensity,” Wietzema said. “We put a lot of pressure on them and made them scramble for the ball.”
The Worthington full-court pressure defense forced 22 turnovers, with Trojans often hitting the floor for loose balls. The WHS advantage on the boards was 58-38.
Maya Scheitel-Taylor finished with eight points and 10 rebounds. Her little sister, Brooklyn, was also a difference-maker.
“Brooklyn is so good defensively right now,” Linder said. “She’s pretty tough to get past.”
With the season’s most important games looming, the Trojans hope to be difficult to beat.
“Our goals are still good,” Wietzema said. “We’re trying to get 15 wins. I think we’ll get there.”
The Trojans, who clinched a second-place finish behind Marshall in the Big South, play host to Tracy-Milroy-Balaton on Tuesday. Worthington concludes the regular season Feb. 20 at powerful St. Peter, which took an 18-5 record into Friday’s play.