Prep basketball: Trojan girls, boys find Western Christian a too-tall hill to climb

BY DOUG WOLTER WORTHINGTON -- Six-two post Ashtyn Verbeek, who will be playing her basketball next year at the University of Nebraska, scored 44 points to lead the powerful Hull-Western Christian girls basketball team to a 72-6...

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The Worthington Trojans' Karasharo Ojulu (43) leaps up for a a shot in Saturday's boys basketball game against the Western Christian Wolfpack. (Tim Middagh/The Globe)
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WORTHINGTON -- Six-two post Ashtyn Verbeek, who will be playing her basketball next year at the University of Nebraska, scored 44 points to lead the powerful Hull-Western Christian girls basketball team to a 72-67 victory Saturday against a determined Worthington outfit in a girl-boy varsity doubleheader.

In the second game, an equally impressive Western Christian boys team handled the WHS boys, 68-51.


With the wins, the Western Christian girls improved to 8-1 on the season. Their boy counterparts moved to 8-0.

For the Worthington teams, Saturday was a day to test their prowess against two of the top schools in northwest Iowa. The Trojan girls handled the test well, though Verbeek proved too much for them. The Trojan boys, coming off impressive wins against Jackson County Central and Redwood Valley, played well. But the Wolfpack was too deep, too quick, too disciplined to fold.

Girls WChristian 72, Worthington 67 Verbeek -- big, strong and versatile -- hit on four 3-point shots against the host Trojans. She also drove the lane hard, with results. She passed, she rebounded. The Trojans, though they frustrated the Wolfpack early by employing a 1-2-2 zone with 6-0 sophomore Nyamer Diew at the top of the key, could only come close.

“They came into today knowing this team was one of the best teams in Iowa,” said WHS head coach Eric Lindner. “Today we were very patient at getting the looks we wanted. We had a turnover once in awhile, but were going aggressively to the rim.”

Worthington led early, 9-5, surrendered the lead 21-11 but fought back to lead 34-31 at halftime on a Diew 3-point shot with 29 seconds to go.

The second half was close throughout. But with 2:16 to go Western Christian assumed a 67-63 advantage on a pair of free throws from Verbeek. Diew answered with a pair of charity tosses, but Verbeek then drove the lane through traffic and bounced a field goal off the rim and through the hoop for a 69-65 lead. Two more free throws from Ally Postma with 43.4 seconds remaining and the lead was 71-65. Worthington couldn’t come back.

Diew finished with 26 points for Worthington and Emma Thuringer had 19. Sophie Wietzema had 10 rebounds and Madisyn Huisman had six.

Lindner said Worthington’s plan was to attempt to take away penetration early in the game with its zone, and it worked for awhile. But Verbeek couldn’t be contained for an entire game.


“I thought we had some good defensive periods and we were contesting shots. It was a good day,” said Lindner.

Western Christian 31 72

Worthington 34 67

WESTERN CHRISTIAN (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) -- Schemper 0-0-1-1, DeJager 0-4-3-11, Bousema 0-0-2-2, Heemskerk 1-0-0-3, Ally Postma 0-1-7-9, Abby Postma 0-1-0-2, Verbeek 4-10-12-44.

WORTHINGTON (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) -- Diew 3-6-5-26, Huisman 0-1-2-4, Sauerbrei 0-1-2-4, Thuringer 2-4-5-19, Weg 0-3-2-8, Wietzema 0-0-6-6. Totals 5-15-22-67.

Boys WChristian 68, Worthington 51 The Worthington boys had a good start. Senior 6-3 forward Tyler Linder scored the team’s first six points for a 6-2 lead. But the Wolfpack scored 16 of the next 24 points.

Western Christian led 31-22 at halftime aided by three 3-point shots by senior Caleb Harmsen.

Worthington’s attempt at a comeback was frustrated by a highly disciplined Wolfpack team blessed an impressive mix of quick, talented guards and posts. Their defense, and their crisp passing on offense, kept the Trojans at bay.


Harmsen finished with 19 points. Jacob Vis, a 6-6 junior, scored 19 as well. Ben Granstra and Carter Broek had 11 points apiece.

“We knew they had a lot of weapons. We just had to play our game and hope for the best,” said Worthington’s 6-7 senior center Stewart Merrigan, who finished with 8 points and four rebounds. “We just gotta keep going forward from here. I think the last two games have given us a lot of confidence.”

“They’re disciplined. They aren’t going to hurt themselves, for sure,” said Trojans head coach Clint Meyer of the state-ranked Wolfpack, who made 65 percent of their 2-point field goals.

“This shouldn’t hurt us as far as confidence, because I thought we played pretty well,” Meyer added. “We just gotta look ahead now. We’ve got some big games coming up.”

Linder finished with 14 points and six rebounds. Karasharo Ojulu, who swished three consecutive 3-point shots late in the second half, had 17 points. Terbuto Ochothow had six assists.

Western Christian 31 68

Worthington 22 51

WESTERN CHRISTIAN (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) -- Steele 0-2-0-4, Harmsen 4-3-1-19, Granstra 0-5-1-11, Broek 1-4-0-11, P.Vis 0-0-2-2, Westra 0-1-0-2, J.Vis 0-8-3-19. Totals 5-23-7-68.

WORTHINGTON (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) -- T.Ochothow 1-1-0-5, Boneschans 0-1-0-2, Linder 0-7-0-14, Calmus 0-1-0-2, Merrigan 0-4-0-8, Asefa 0-0-1-1, K.Ojulu 5-2-0-17. Totals 6-16-1-51.

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
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