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Girls basketball: Trojans use pressure and steals to defeat Luverne

WORTHINGTON -- The Worthington High School girls basketball team operates on a defensive principle predicated on pressure and thievery. On Saturday in a narrow victory over visiting Jordan, the principle hinged on physicality -- a relentlessly ag...

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Tim Middagh/Daily Globe Worthington Trojans Emma Thuringer (20) drives the lane in the face of Luverne defender Zayna Hustoft (33) and attempts a layup in the Trojans victory in Worthington on Tuesday.

WORTHINGTON -- The Worthington High School girls basketball team operates on a defensive principle predicated on pressure and thievery.

On Saturday in a narrow victory over visiting Jordan, the principle hinged on physicality -- a relentlessly aggressive approach that resulted in plenty of bumps and bruises. On Tuesday, again in the friendly confines of the WHS gym, the pressure was less physical, but every bit as successful.

The Trojans essentially won their game against Big South Conference rival Luverne in the first half, using pressure, and a bunch of resulting steals and fast breaks, to post a 35-14 halftime lead. So solid was the WHS defense that the Cardinals managed only three field goals in the entire first half.

Worthington finally prevailed, 73-47.

Junior guard Emma Thuringer, who was uncharacteristically off-target in the Jordan game, finished with 17 points. Evelyn Othow scored 19 points. Emily Shaffer scored 10.

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“It was a good start. Against Jordan I was just cold, and I wasn’t getting the shot off as I would have liked,” Thuringer said.

Junior guard Joci Oye led Luverne with 13 points.

The Worthington defense operated somewhat like three rings on Tuesday. Luverne might be fortunate enough to get past the outer ring of would-be ball hawks, and maybe also navigate the middle ring. But rarely did the Cards solve all three without significant resistance, and often a steal was made somewhere along the perimeter -- where it was turned into a quick outlet pass to a fast-breaking teammate and a layup.

“Our goal this game was to put a lot more pressure on the ball. And that stopped them from doing anything else,” said Thuringer. “They (the coaches) are always on us about our defense and making sure we’re always in the right position.”

Head coach Eric Lindner seconded that motion.

“That first half, I think we played really good defense,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what the score is, we just have to play hard all the time.”

Offensively, Othow had 14 of her game-high 19 points after halftime.

“Evelyn came in and gave us a good game today. (She) probably has the quickest first step on our team. And it’s always hard to defend against a lefty,” Lindner said.

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Down by 21 heading into the second half, the Cardinals needed to come up with a new solution in the second half. However, the Trojans were too quick and too focused to allow a significant LHS run, and they were able to substitute liberally and maintain a safe distance.

But the tone was set early in the first half. Thuringer scored the first four points of the game, first on a short jumper and next on the receiving end of a fast break and layup. She had six of the Trojans’ first 12 points as the home team assumed a 12-3 lead.

If not for a few layups that the Trojans missed, the margin might have been greater. But even so, it became a 27-8 lead on an Evelyn Othow 3-pointer at the 5:15 mark. The half ended on a 3-point shot by Luverne’s Mackenzie Petersen inside the final 10 seconds, but the Trojans continued to be aggressive as the second half began. And they never stopped playing defense.

Luverne 14 47Worthington 35 73

Related Topics: BASKETBALL
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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