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Boys baksetball: JCC looks sharp in win over Worthington

JACKSON -- Once the Jackson County Central Huskies got their game going, they never looked back. The Huskies, fresh off a thrilling come-from-behind win over Redwood Valley the night before, thumped visiting Worthington 86-65 Tuesday in a boys hi...

JACKSON -- Once the Jackson County Central Huskies got their game going, they never looked back.

The Huskies, fresh off a thrilling come-from-behind win over Redwood Valley the night before, thumped visiting Worthington 86-65 Tuesday in a boys high school basketball matchup at the Jackson gymnasium. Building a 28-point lead that they took into intermission, the Huskies kept the Trojans at bay throughout the second half.

Rudy Voss, a 6-2 freshman who plays like a senior, led the winners in scoring with 20 points. Easton Bahr scored 16, Jacob Christopher 13 and Chris Gumto 10 as the Huskies -- coming in waves -- won their second game this year against the Worthington bunch.

Tuesday’s game was an intriguing rematch. On Jan. 3 in Worthington, the Trojans sustained arguably their biggest disappointment of the season and the Huskies one of their most savory victories in a game that saw WHS play outstanding basketball in the first half only to lose 79-62. JCC played brilliantly after intermission and WHS seemed to fall apart, but to their credit the Trojans responded with a four-game winning streak.

In the rematch, fans were anxious to see if Worthington could play four quarters of solid basketball against their Big South Conference rivals instead of just two. Curious eyes were on Jackson County Central, too, because on Monday night the Huskies trailed Redwood Valley by 19 points at halftime before winning in the end for their 16th victory of the season against just three losses. Did the Huskies have enough legs to beat the Trojans without rest?

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“During the day at school, coach (Trent Sukalski) was asking us if we had some gas left in the tank,” Christopher said after the game. “It was almost like it was with Redwood in the second half. Once we got a few in the basket, we started to roll.”

The JCC offense started slowly Tuesday night, but the Trojans’ offense was even more sluggish. Worthington, in fact, missed its first 10 field goal attempts. Jackson County Central made just one of its first five, but heated up a little bit after that and led the Trojans 10-0 before Nathan Boneschans connected on a mid-range jumper to get his team on the board.

Christopher said the Huskies knew they had to be sharp against the Trojans.

“From that first half of that first game, we knew they were going to play tough. So we knew we had to play like we did in the second half, and do it in the first half. And we did it tonight,” Christopher said.

JCC, stretching the floor, using its quickness to get some steals, and getting the outlet pass out quickly on the fast break, extended its early lead to 21-4. Worthington’s best shooter, senior all-conference guard-forward Zach Boever, was held scoreless in the entire first half, and he spent a good portion of the late first half on the bench.

With 1:29 to go, Bahr sunk a 3-point shot for a 39-13 JCC lead. Seconds later it was Bahr again, inside, and it was 41-13. That’s how it stayed until intermission.

In the second half Worthington clearly needed a Tom Brady-like comeback -- a very tall order against a JCC team that thrives on aggression -- that doesn’t have the DNA for a relaxed approach to basketball.

“Coach always tells us to play fast no matter what. That’s our style,” Christopher said.

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A good sign for the Trojans was that Boever, now off the bench, scored quickly as the second half began. He finished the game with 19 points, but the Trojans were never able to put a significant dent in the Huskies’ lead.

Trojans Tyler Linder and Stewart Merrigan scored 10 points apiece for the Trojans.

Worthington 13 65Jackson County Central 41 86

Doug Wolter joined the Worthington Globe in December of 1983 as a sports reporter. He later became sports editor, and then news editor and managing editor. In 2006 he moved to Mankato with his wife, Sandy, and served as an editor at the Mankato Free Press. In 2013 he and Sandy returned to Worthington to take up the job of sports editor at The Globe, and they have been in Worthington since.

Doug can be reached at dwolter@dglobe.com.
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