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Trojan girls make progress, but Marshall proves too tough, 75-40

The Marshall Tigers visited the Worthington High School gymnasium Thursday night and came away with a girls basketball victory

The Marshall Tigers' Lexie Bednarek (21) looks to the referee as she struggles with Trojans Madison Beckmann over a jump ball during a gritty first half Thursday night in Worthington.
The Marshall Tigers' Lexie Bednarek (21) looks to the referee as she struggles with Trojans Madison Beckmann over a jump ball during a gritty first half Thursday night in Worthington.
Tim Middagh/The Globe
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WORTHINGTON -- It might not have been evident to look at the scoreboard, but the Worthington Trojans girls basketball team made some notable progress Thursday night.

Playing the perennially-powerful Marshall Tigers, the Trojans -- who’ve struggled this year with their ball-handling and passing -- made improvements in their spacing and their ball movement. For much of the first half, their passing was crisper and their dribbling was more refined.

Head coach Jessica Hogan agreed that it was an improvement from the team’s first three games.

“We looked a lot more confident against the press. We made more good decisions,” she said.

Unfortunately for the home-standing Trojans, Marshall prevailed, 75-40. It was the Tigers’ first game of the season, and they were clearly the superior team.

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Worthington Trojans Ellie Weg (in black) times her jump shot as Marshall Tigers Brianna Simpson (23) and Brooke Andries press in with the defense Thursday evening.
Worthington's Ellie Weg (in black) times her jump shot as Marshall's Brianna Simpson (23) and Brooke Andries press in with the defense.
Tim Middagh/The Globe

They came out fast, leading 8-0 with less than a minute elapsed in the game. Five-eight senior guard Brianna Simpson led the way, scoring nine of Marshall’s first 12 points as the visitors erupted to a 14-1 lead.

Worthington fought to within 17-11. But the Tigers were relentless. A pair of 3-point shots, one by Simpson and the other by Lexie Bednarek, pushed MHS to a 26-13 advantage, prompting a WHS time-out with 8:59 to play until intermission. Worthington senior Ellie Weg drained a 3-point shot at the buzzer, but that still left the Trojans short at the half, 42-23.

To begin the second half, the Tigers played more methodically, and they spread their defense the full length of the floor to slow down their rivals. The strategy worked, as Marshall scored the first 10 points of the half. Worthington didn’t score until four and a half minutes elapsed in the second half, on a Tarren Spartz free throw.

“I think our kids were pretty excited to play a game. We really got after ‘em from the opening tip,” said the Tigers’ veteran head coach, Dan Westby. “But I think we gave Tarren Spartz too many opportunities. She had too many offensive rebounds.”

Worthington head coach Jessica Hogan calls a timeout in the first half during a game with the visiting Marshall Tigers Thursday evening.
Worthington head coach Jessica Hogan talks during a time-out in the first half during a game with the visiting Marshall Tigers Thursday evening.

Hogan noticed Spartz’s efforts, too.

“She battled really well on the boards. She kept a lot of balls alive. She got her hands on them,” declared the Trojans’ first-year head coach.

Spartz, a 5-11 senior post, finished with nine points for the Trojans along with six rebounds. She was tenacious around the basket -- which is typical of her. So was Weg, who led Worthington with 10 points and seven rebounds.

Spartz added three assists. Madison Beckmann led WHS with four.

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Simpson, a smooth operator who can score both inside and outside, led all players with 25 points. Bednarek had 13 points, Kennedy Drake had nine and Lauren Wherry had eight.

“Marshall, they’re a very good team. They’re strong, they’re big, they’re physical,” said Hogan.

Westby predicted that the Trojans will continue improving as they work to replace their top playmakers from last season.

“They lost some key ball-handlers,” he said. “That’s just gonna take time. They’re going to get better.”

Worthington is 1-3 on the season.

Marshall 42 75

Worthington 23 40

MARSHALL (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) -- K.Drake 1-2-0-9, Graven 1-0-0-3, Bjella 0-2-0-4, L.Jones 0-1-0-2, Andries 0-0-1-1, Bednarek 3-2-2-131, Simpson 3-7-2-25, Wherry 0-2-4-8, Panka 0-0-2-2, R.Drake 0-2-0-4, Casavan 0-1-0-2. Totals 8-19-11-75.

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WORTHINGTON (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) -- Beckmann 1-1-0-5, T.Spartz 0-4-1-9, P.Gora 1-1-2-7, E.Weg 1-3-1-10, N.Gora 1-0-0-3, J.Spartz 1-0-0-3, Zeidi 0-0-1-1, Scheepstra 0-1-0-2. Totals 5-10-5-40.

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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