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Eagles shot down: Trojans outplay outstanding New Ulm team in thrilling boys basketball showdown

For pride and seeding, the Worthington Trojans dumped tough, tall New Ulm 61-54 Friday night in Worthington

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WORTHINGTON -- There was a tournament-like atmosphere in Worthington Friday, and the Worthington Trojans overcame an outstanding New Ulm boys basketball team, 61-54, in a game that thrilled the home fans on Meet the Trojans Night.

In a matchup between two of the top teams in the section, the Trojans used every ounce of grit and savvy they could muster against a tall, physical Eagles squadron that didn’t know the word “quit.”

“We played with a lot of emotion. We knew it was going to be a close game. It was going to come down to the hustle plays. I think we had a few more of them at the end,” said head coach Clint Meyer. “They’re (the Eagles) not going to give up. They played extra hard and they’re extremely well-coached. And we didn’t let up, either.”

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Worthington led 34-28 at intermission, but just moments before the start of the second half New Ulm head coach Matt Dennis could be heard loudly encouraging his team at the bench. “We … have got to work!” he told his players.

Both teams worked -- and hard -- the rest of the way. New Ulm finally took a lead, 41-40, on a Mason Epper 3-point shot with about 10 minutes to go. But with 2:34 remaining, WHS point guard Mikele Walu drained a 3-pointer of his own to give his team a 56-52 lead. The score became 56-54 with Worthington in possession of the basketball with about a minute to go, but the Trojans were called on an over-and-back violation.

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Fortunately for the hosts, the Eagles were whistled for a traveling violation seconds later on the other end. With 24.1 seconds remaining, Worthington junior Kaleb Knothe hit a 3-pointer from the corner for 59-54. That was all she wrote.

“It’s Meet the Trojans, we wanted to show up for the home fans,” said Knothe, who finished several tough, high-energy shots on the evening and tallied 20 points overall. “We needed to show this year we weren’t going to play around.”

The win pushed WHS to 8-2 on the season while it dropped New Ulm to 9-3.

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Knothe said Coach Meyer put the team through many different drills to get the players ready for New Ulm.

“We knew they were very good. We had to come out and play our game, play our team game,” Knothe said. “We just had to really watch their shooting. We knew that we had to get on the board, and just take care of things.”

New Ulm’s Colton Benson, a 6-5 junior, led all scorers with 26 points. He hit on four 3-point shots and often made buckets with Trojans hanging all over him. Nathan Firle, a 6-9 junior center, scored all eight of his points in the second half.

Throughout the game, New Ulm used its height and athleticism to its advantage near the defensive boards. But the Trojans were as relentless as the Eagles were on both ends of the floor. And they never let up.

New Ulm 28 54

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Worthington 34 61

NEW ULM (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) -- Jensen 1-0-0-3, M.Epper 2-0-0-6, Horning 0-2-0-4, Clark 1-0-0-3, Osborne 0-0-1-1, Fossen 0-1-0-2, Benson 4-5-4-26, Firle 0-4-0-8. Totals 8-12-5-54.

WORTHINGTON (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) -- Walu 2-1-2-10, A.Opiew 2-1-1-9, M.Opiew 1-0-2-5, Knothe 2-7-0-20, Swinea 0-3-3-9, Brands 0-1-0-2, Hayenga 0-1-1-3, Zeidi 1-0-0-3. Totals 8-13-9-61.

Related Topics: BASEBALLWORTHINGTON TROJANS
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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