WORTHINGTON -- Olivia Hayenga and the Worthington High girls basketball team had a first half to forget Friday night.
“I wasn’t doing too hot,” she said. “It just wasn’t falling for me. But the second half I felt a lot better.”
So did the Trojans.
Hayenga scored 15 of her 21 points in the second half to lead the Trojans to a 67-47 victory over the Luverne Cardinals in a Big South Conference game. The junior guard missed 12 of her 13 field-goal attempts in the first half, but turned it around as the Trojans won going away.
Sophomore forward Tarren Spartz scored 12 of her 14 points after intermission as Worthington improved to 8-2. The Trojans have won three in a row and eight of their last nine.
Sophomore forward Christina Wagner scored 15 points for Luverne (4-6). Freshman Kira John had 12 points and 11 rebounds for the Cardinals, who wilted in the second half against the Trojans’ relentless full-court trapping defensive pressure.
On a night when the shots weren’t falling, the Trojans compensated with extra effort.
“The defense is always there, but the offense wasn’t tonight,” said Worthington coach Eric Lindner. “We missed a lot of easy shots and a lot of open shots. But I suppose you’re going to have nights like that.”
After shooting just 6-for-37 from the field in the first half en route to 20 points, the Trojans scored 47 points thereafter. The defensive effort sparked Worthington to a 17-0 run midway through the second half.
Spartz had a pair of 3-pointers during the flurry. Hayenga kick-started it with back-to-back fastbreak hoops, and junior guard Brooklyn Scheitel-Taylor had a steal and layup. Senior guard Laci Boomgarden also contributed a trey as the Trojans at long last started to find the range.
The Cardinals played without star junior guard Brooklyn Ver Steeg, who last month scored the 1,000th point of her career.
“She tore her ACL against Hills a couple of weeks ago,” said Luverne coach TJ Newgard. “We’re almost starting over, learning new roles with some new people without Brooklyn. So we’re trying to figure it out.
“Our kids play hard, but against a good team you can only sustain the defensive effort and get stops for so long before you just wear out … It was one of those games where in the second half it got away from us.”
Senior center Sophie Wietzema and sophomore post Ellie Weg combined for 21 boards as the Trojans out-rebounded the Cardinals 54-23. Luverne shot well from the field, but the Cardinals turned it over a whopping 38 times.
Worthington is on the road next week for a pair of difficult Big South games. The Trojans are at St. Peter on Tuesday and travel to Marshall on Friday.
Luverne travels to Windom to take on the Eagles on Monday.
Luverne 19 47
Worthington 20 67
LUVERNE (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) - Christina Wagner 1-6-0-15, Emma Beyer 0-0-1-1, Averill Sehr 1-2-1-8, Kira John 0-4-4-12, Elise Ferrell 1-2-1-8, Lauren Hansen 0-1-0-2, Madee Schmuck 0-0-1-1. Totals: 3-15-8-47.
WORTHINGTON (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) - Brooklyn Scheitel-Taylor 1-2-2-9, Stephanie Bauman 0-1-0-2, Laci Boomgarden 3-0-0-9, Olivia Hayenga 2-4-7-21, Dasia Potter 2-0-0-6, Tarren Spartz 2-2-4-14, Ellie Weg 0-0-1-1, Sophie Wietzema 0-1-0-2, Madison Schaefer 0-1-1-3. Totals: 10-11-15-67.