WORTHINGTON -- It was the same play twice in a row.
And each time, it worked for Nyamer Diew.
The sophomore on Worthington’s girls basketball team hit a layup and drained a 3-pointer to turn a two-point deficit into a three-point lead as the Trojans hung on for a 79-75 victory over Southwest Christian on Thursday night.
“They told us it was going to be a hard game and we just came out strong,” said Diew, who finished with 28 points, 13 rebounds, four assists, four blocks and three steals. “We had a little drop in the second half in the beginning, but then we came back. And we just trusted in everyone.”
For seniors Emma Thuringer, Ashlyn Rosenberg and Anneke Weg, Thursday night was the final home game.
“It’s crazy,” Weg said. “Time flies. Your parents tell you all the time, and looking back, it’s really true. There’s a lot of memories.”
For WHS head coach Eric Lindner, he said the best thing about his seniors is he could always count on them in any situation.
“They do well in the classroom and they have good character and values and morals,” he said. “They are good role models for our kids. I think they’ve gotten better every year. They’ve peaked at the right time as far as their basketball ability.”
Thursday’s basketball game often resembled a track meet at times as each team looked to run up and down the court.
“It probably wasn’t a defensive highlight film, but it was a good thing of attacking and attacking and attacking,” Lindner said. “We were able to maintain. We were lucky because they were able to get up on us a couple times and we came back and scored some buckets.”
The game was tight throughout as the biggest lead for either team was just six points. And that came in the first half as the Trojans went on a 13-2 run to turn a 14-9 deficit into a 22-16 advantage.
“It was emotional and intense. It was really fun,” said Weg, who had 12 points and 14 rebounds. “We work on everything everyday in practice. I think this was definitely more of an offensive game. When you can make defensive stops, that’s huge.”
With the score tied at 42 at halftime, SWC delivered the first blow out of the break and took the lead on a free throw from Hannah Nerem (16 points) and a shot from Sydney Van Hulzen. Diew and Thuringer (11 points) answered with two points each before Jazlynn Prins (18 points) made a 3 to give the Eagles back the lead.
“I don’t know what sparked us,” Diew said. “I think it was just our last home game and we realized we have to go and play like we usually do. We’ve been playing together for a whole year now and we have to trust our teammates.”
The Eagles maintained that lead until the final two minutes.
“It’s definitely tiring because they come down and hit a shot and you have to come down and hit a shot to stay in it,” Weg said. “It’s hard to get out of that back and forth type of thing. But that’s where the momentum shifts come in.”
While SWC tried to put the Trojans away, Worthington’s Madisyn Huisman (16 points) helped keep her team in it. She had eight of WHS’ 10 points in a span of three minutes to keep the Trojans within striking distance. Following a pair of free throws by Van Hulzen, SWC led 72-68 with 3:21 remaining. Huisman made two free throws to answer.
Diew then took over. Using the same play call twice, she drove to the basket for a shot to tie the game at 72, and on the next possession, walked the ball down the court, stopped and nailed a 3 from the top of the key to give WHS a 75-72 advantage.
“My teammates have a lot of trust in me in those situations, so I really thank them for that,” Diew said. “You just have to trust yourself and have confidence.”
Payton Sauerbrei (eight points, eight assists, six rebounds) hit two free throws to increase the lead. Prins hit a three in the final 20 seconds to cut the lead to two, but Diew made two more free throws to seal the win.
“Especially for being the last game in this gym, it’s really cool,” Weg said of the win. “All my teammates played extremely well. It’s a team effort. I think we did good tonight.”
The Eagles are hoping to be very familiar with the Worthington High School gymnasium over the next few days. They will play in the Section 3A tournament on Saturday and if they win, they will play in Worthington again on Tuesday. With the tournament on the horizon, that didn’t mean SWC was overlooking Thursday’s game.
“It matters a whole lot to us and we play every game like it’s the most important game. We practice hard for every single out,” SWC head coach Denise Nerem said. “This hurts a whole lot. We felt like we had that game under control and then we let them sneak back in with a lot of little mistakes and miscues. Worthington played a great game and they shot the ball extremely well.”
Southwest Christian 42 75
Worthington 42 79
SOUTHWEST CHRISTIAN (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) Prins 3-3-3-18, E. Nerem 0-5-1-11, DeKam 0-3-6-12, Van Hulzen 1-2-2-9, Schaap 1-1-0-5, H. Nerem 0-6-4-16, M. Nerem 0-2-0-4. Totals 5-22-16-75.
WORTHINGTON (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) Diew 3-7-5-28, Huisman 0-6-4-16, Sauerbrei 0-1-6-8, Thuringer 0-4-3-11, Weg 0-6-0-12, Wietzema 0-2-0-4. Totals 3-26-18-79.