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Prep girls basketball: Worthington turns Jackson County Central over

WORTHINGTON -- Turnovers were numerous, free throws were constant. And the Worthington Trojans girls basketball team, which started slowly, became relentless as time wore on and secured a 67-48 victory Tuesday in a Big South Conference matchup.Ja...

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TIM MIDDAGH/DAILY GLOBE Trojans’ senior Allie Bruns (22) puts up a shot with Huskies’ defenders Jayni Anderson (11), Ana Dunlavey (20) and Annika Lilleberg providing resistance.

WORTHINGTON - Turnovers were numerous, free throws were constant. And the Worthington Trojans girls basketball team, which started slowly, became relentless as time wore on and secured a 67-48 victory Tuesday in a Big South Conference matchup.
Jackson County Central stayed close to Worthington for the first 10 minutes of the first half, but the Trojans methodically pulled away to even their record at 4-4. For the Huskies (1-6) it was their sixth consecutive loss.
“We came out and played really well in the first half. That’s probably the best half-court defense we played all year,” said JCC head coach and WHS graduate Chris Aggen. “It kind of snowballed in the wrong direction.”
Turnovers hurt the Huskies - they made 36 of them compared to Worthington’s 29 - and their propensity to foul put Worthington on the free throw line far too many times. The Trojans converted 15 of 28 free throws in the first half, then made eight of 17 in the second half.
JCC made 13 of 29 charity tosses for the game.
Floor leader Emma Thuringer, a 5-10 sophomore, led all Worthington players with 17 points. Ahmitara Alwal, a 5-6 junior, added 16 points.
Worthington, trailing 9-6 in the first quarter when JCC’s Jayni Anderson was left unguarded for a lay-in, tied the game at 24-24 on a pair of Emily Shaffer layups. The Trojans outscored the Huskies 7-0 over the final minute to take a 31-24 lead into halftime.
The lead expanded in the second half as Jackson County Central was unable to make a dent.
“Defensive pressure. We got some turnovers which turned into easy offense,” said WHS mentor Eric Lindner.
Alwal had 12 of her 16 points in the second half. Thuringer had 10 of her 17 in the second half. Teammate Anneke Weg finished with 12 points.
For JCC, Anderson had 10 points. Hunter Wrightson finished with nine. Eighth-grader Alaina Wolf, a 5-4 guard, scored all of her eight points in the second half.
Lindner credited several of his players with solid games. He liked the inside passing of junior forward Emma Gerber and the aggressive movement of Thuringer. He singled out Alwal for finishing her layups well and for her free throw shooting (she missed her first four but made six of 12 overall). He liked the way Allie Bruns posted up and the way Weg got into position to finish her shots.
Worthington switched from a zone press to full-court man-to-man pressure and it made a big difference. Early in the game, the Trojans’ zone press appeared tentative and almost half-hearted.
The difference was noticed by Lindner. “They just seem to play better when they have someone in front of them,” he said.
Increasingly in the second half, Worthington players were able to flash to the basket, take passes from the wing and finish them with buckets. Success in that area encouraged better movement.
“We are not hard to guard when we stand still,” said Lindner.
Aggen said his game plan going into the contest was for his smaller Huskies (they played only one player taller than 5-8) to exaggerate their help inside. “Make them take jumpers,” he said. But WHS, with its defense leading the charge, converted a good share of lay-ins in the second half.
JCC 24 48
Worthington 31 67
JCC (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) - Lilleberg 1-1-1-6, Wrightson 0-3-3-9, Brinkman 1-0-0-3, Anderson 1-2-3-10, Murphy 0-0-2-2, Benson 0-0-1-1, Dunlavey 1-2-0-7, Jones 0-1-0-2, Wolff 1-1-3-8. Totals 5-10-13-48.
WORTHINGTON (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) - Alwal 1-5-6-16, Thuringer 0-5-7-17, Bruns 1-2-2-7, Gerber 0-0-0-0, Woll 0-1-1-3, Heidebrink 0-1-1-3, Weg 0-4-4-12, Mulder 0-1-0-2, Shaffer 1-2-2-7. Totals 2-19-23-67.

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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