Prep basketball: Tigers claw Trojans
LES KNUTSON Daily Globe WORTHINGTON -- There was plenty of excitement at the Worthington High School gymnasium Thursday evening as the visiting Marshall Tigers put on a diversified display of basketball skills and the hustling Worthington Trojans...
WORTHINGTON -- There was plenty of excitement at the Worthington High School gymnasium Thursday evening as the visiting Marshall Tigers put on a diversified display of basketball skills and the hustling Worthington Trojans countered with several highlight plays of their own.
But when the final horn sounded, the Tigers remained undefeated (2-0) on the new season with a 72-51 triumph, while the Trojans (2-1) endured their first loss after two impressive victories.
“Our effort was good, real good,” summed up WHS head coach Clint Meyer. “We had some problems early against Marshall’s press, but did better as the game progressed. We were able to get some of the shots we wanted, but weren’t able to put many down. A bright spot was that we came up with nine consecutive defensive stops to start the second half.”
After rallying with a 12-2 burst over a span of three minutes and 28 seconds late in the first half -- which sliced Marshall’s 37-16 advantage down to just 11 (39-28) -- the Trojans came out with a strong defensive effort after intermission.
“Worthington made some good adjustments and defended our inside game well,” said Marshall head coach Travis Carroll, a 1997 Fulda High School graduate and former three-sport athlete for the Raiders. “Clint’s team did a nice job of rotating and covering up a lot of the things that we like to do. Give the Trojans a lot of credit. They are developing a good basketball team.”
Marshall, which features size, speed and plenty of depth, opened up an early lead of 16-5, forcing eight of Worthington’s 24 turnovers during the game’s first seven minutes.
Over the next two minutes, the gap widened to 24-7 as the Tigers converted three times on dunks -- one by Mitchell Sueker on an inbounds play and two by Weston Baker Magrath (the first off a drive and the second one -- a reverse slam -- off an alley-oop pass from Reece Winkelman).
Both Magrath and Sueker are listed at 6-8, while Blaise Andries, who has signed to play college football for the Minnesota Golden Gophers, stands 6-7.
It was a missed dunk attempt by Sueker which started Worthington’s rally.
Coming in hard from the left side, Sueker was contested by Trojan junior point guard OD Othow, who is listed at 6-2. Marshall was ahead by 21 points (37-16) with 3:36 to play in the first half when the Trojans rebounded the miss and moved the ball up the court.
Othow sank a deep three-pointer from the left wing and was fouled. He missed the free throw, but came up with a long rebound and fired a pass to Zach Boever, who sank a three-pointer of his own as the Trojans scored six quick unanswered points.
The Tigers countered with a post-up bucket by Jacob Hess, but the Trojans responded with a pair of free throws of Othow, a shot block by Nathan Boneschans, a free throw by Boneschans and a steal by Othow.
Othow wrestled the ball free from the Tigers at midcourt and fired a pass ahead to Boever, who made a spin move in the lane, scored and was fouled. His free throw was good, completing the three-point play and capping Worthington’s 12-2 run, which sliced Marshall’s lead to 39-28 with 8.6 seconds left in the half.
Marshall’s Nikki Ecktanitphong cooled Worthington’s spurt with a right-wing three-pointer at the buzzer, sending the Tigers into intermission with a 42-28 lead.
“We had a nice run there over the last three minutes of the first half, ignited by several good plays by OD,” praised Meyer about Othow’s contributions during that burst. “Then we came out and played great defense for the first six or seven minutes of the second half.”
Working their flex offense with patience, the Trojans scored first after the break when Huisman connected on a right-wing three-pointer. The score stayed at 42-31 over several possessions as neither team scored for several minutes.
“We played well in spurts tonight,” Carroll said. “Worthington came out, defended strong and did not allow us to a get a spurt going for several minutes of the second half. The Trojans worked the ball well on offense, too, getting the looks they wanted --- fortunately for us, they weren’t falling.”
The Tigers finally scored off an open drive down the lane at the 12:24 mark --- after going 5:36 without a bucket.
Othow scored on the end of a slick Trojan press break after Marshall’s basket and the margin remained at 11 (44-33). A bit later, Worthington’s Stewart Merrigan drew back-to-back charges as the Trojans continued their strong defensive stand.
Slowly, the Tigers began taking command, working to leads of 49-33 and 55-36 over the next four minutes. A shot block and open drive for a dunk by Magrath was a Marshall highlight during that span.
“We needed to score while we working so hard defending,” Meyer said. “We did get some good first shots, but didn’t make enough of them. It’s hard to get many second shots against Marshall’s size and ability to block out.”
Marshall continued to stretch its advantage over the final seven minutes, claiming a pair of 23-point leads (65-42 and 67-44). A three-point by Tyler Linder and a nice drive by Ben Koepsell were among Worthington’s highlights in the closing minutes.
Huisman (12), Boever (12) and Linder (11) each notched double figures for the Trojans, who put seven players in the scoring column. Huisman came up with three steals, while Merrigan and Linder pulled down seven and six rebounds, respectively. The Trojans shot 75 percent (15-of-20) from the free throw line.
Eleven players scored for Marshall, including four -- Zach Bloemker (14), Magrath (12), Ryan Van Moer (11) and Sueker (10) -- in double figures. The Tigers also shot 75 percent (21-of-28) from the line.
Worthington is back in action Saturday, hosting Waseca at 3 p.m.
Marshall 42 72Worthington 28 51MARSHALL (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) Magrath 0-5-2-12, Ecktanitphong 1-0-0-3, Klaith 0-0-3-3, Winkelman 0-1-0-2, Bloemker 2-1-6-14, Sueker 1-2-3-10, VanMoer 1-2-4-11, Hess 0-2-0-4, Onken 0-1-0-2, Andries 0-3-1-7, Pruszynski 0-1-2-4. Totals 5-18-21-72WORTHINGTON (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) Othow 1-1-4-9, Boever 2-1-4-12, Koepsell 0-1-2-4, Huisman 3-1-1-12, Merrigan 0-1-0-2, Boneschans 0-0-1-1, Linder 0-4-3-11. Totals 6-9-15-51