Pavelko shot gives Trojan boys a 60-58 win over Western Christian

Trojans vs Western Christian Boys Basketball S3jpg.jpg
Daniel Pavelko (45) shoots over Western Christian's Dawson Feenstra Saturday. Later in the game, Pavelko hit a shot with less than a second left for the game-winner. (Tim Middagh/The Globe)

WORTHINGTON -- Daniel Pavelko is not normally the Worthington Trojans’ first choice to shoot a potential game-winning shot at the buzzer. But as the final seconds ticked away in a 58-58 tie with the visiting Western Christian Wolfpack Saturday afternoon, he had the ball in his hands and destiny in his fingertips.

Pavelko, who averages about four points per game for the WHS boys basketball team, sunk the game-winner from a little to the right of the free throw line with 0.9 seconds on the clock. It rattled the rim and through the hoop and the Trojans earned a 60-58 win against a team that had won 11 straight games.

“I’ve never hit a game-winning shot before,” said the junior guard, listed optimistically at 5-10 in the program. “I always just dreamed it as a kid, to make a game-winning shot. Felt good to have one of those.”

Saturday’s game was one in which the Trojans trailed most of the way. But they stayed close, hoping something good might happen at the end. And it did.

The team from Hull, Iowa, took a 58-55 lead with 1:18 to play on a Ty Van Essen shot, but Worthington answered on a 3-point shot from junior Terbuto Ochothow to knot the score with a minute remaining. After one missed shot by Western, the Wolfpack retained possession and in-bounded the ball with 30 seconds to go, passed it around the perimeter, then called a time-out at 11.4 to set up a play. But the ensuing pass deep into the lane was mishandled and lost, and WHS had 10 seconds remaining to break the tie.


Pavelko said he didn’t know how much time was left when the ball was passed to him. But his sixth sense told him to shoot.

“It was just, get the ball in and try to find an open shot for someone,” he recalled later. “They threw it back to me, and I knew it was only 10 seconds left when we in-bounded it. I knew time was running down and I had to shoot it. It was a shot I could make, you know? I didn’t know how much time was left. I just caught it and …”

Pavelko’s claim to playing time has always been his tenacious defense. He finished Saturday’s game with four points, but it was the last two that made him the center of attention at the buzzer.

Ochothow, who scored 30 points Friday in a victory over Pipestone Area, started slow against Western Christian, missing his first four shots from the field. But he ended with a game-high 29 points.

Van Essen, a solid inside presence at 6-4, scored 23 for Western, and teammate Dawson Feenstra scored 16.

The visiting Wolfpack led 10-2 early, and 34-29 at halftime. Worthington didn’t have a lead until Ochothow connected on a long 3-point shot for a 43-42 lead with 9:55 remaining in the game.

The win pushed Worthington to 8-8 on the season.

Head coach Clint Meyer had a plan for those final 10 seconds Saturday. But his players had to improvise.


“I’m thinking, ‘Do I call a time-out or do I not call a time-out?’ I thought Terbo can knife in, but they took him away,” Meyer said. “It was a good moment for Danny to step up and take that shot. … I was kind of wondering if we were going to get a shot off.”

He added, “It was under pressure. It looked like he had done it a thousand times before.”

Western Christian 34 58

Worthington 29 60

WESTERN CHRISTIAN (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) -- Gulker 0-2-2-6, Winterfeld 0-1-2-4, Feenstra 2-5-0-16, Anderson 0-1-0-2, T.Van Essen 1-10-2-23, Westra 0-0-1-1, Van Meeteren 0-1-0-2, Zevenbergen 0-1-0-2. Totals 3-21-7-58.

WORTHINGTON (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) -- Opiew 1-0-0-3, Ochothow 3-5-10-29, Bruns 1-2-1-8, Bickett 0-3-0-6, Brandner 0-2-2-6, Pavelko 0-2-0-4, J.Boever 0-2-0-4. Totals 5-16-13-60.


Trojans vs Western Christian Boys Basketball S1.jpg
Worthington boys basketball player Will Brandner (33) takes a fast break down court and shoots over Western Christian's Eli Van Essen Saturday afternoon. (Tim Middagh/The Globe)

What To Read Next
Monday high school sports roundup:
Luverne is seeded No. 1 in the upcoming Section 3A girls high school hockey tournament and Worthington is seeded sixth.
The Worthington Trojans boys basketball team played exceptional defense against Canistota, surrendering a mere 11 points in the first half.
Outstanding outside shooting helped the Eagles beat Worthington in Worthington, 82-68