Trojans advance to Section 3AAA finals

MANKATO -- With all the big-game experience on the Worthington Trojan squad, it was a sophomore who provided the spark Saturday night. Kaitlin Gerber scored 16 points off the bench to lead Worthington to a 73-55 victory over Willmar in a girls' s...

MANKATO -- With all the big-game experience on the Worthington Trojan squad, it was a sophomore who provided the spark Saturday night.

Kaitlin Gerber scored 16 points off the bench to lead Worthington to a 73-55 victory over Willmar in a girls' section 2AAA semifinal basketball game at Bresnan Arena on the campus of Minnesota State University, Mankato.

"You ain't kidding (Gerber) sparked us in the first half," Worthington head coach Eric Lindner said. "She hit the three right off the bat, and had some nice penetration and finish, and those were big baskets. For a sophomore that's never played in a big game, she really stepped it up tonight."

The Trojans will now face Marshall for the third time this season at 7 p.m. Thursday in Mankato. The teams split during the regular season.

Holli Aggen led all scorers with 29 points for Worthington (21-4), while Gabby Boever scored 14.


"Holli and Sarah (Boever) are solid, and that's what you like about them," Lindner said. "I told them before the game, I said 'Holli, Gabby and Sarah, you've been here, and you need to lead.' I thought they did a nice job."

Sarah Boever finished with eight points, six rebounds and four steals on the night and was a crucial part to the Trojans' defense against a much taller Willmar (12-14) team.

"We're quick, and we put pressure on the wing, and I think that's what helped," Lindner said of defending the taller team. "Even though you have an open post, you have so much pressure on the wing that you're not going to make a good pass."

With Willmar attempting to slow the pace of the game, the Cardinals had an early 6-0 lead on the Trojans after a pair of baskets from Briana Goldschmidt and a pair of free throws from Kelsey Evans (10 points).

In the first four minutes, the Trojans had more fouls (four) than points (zero), but Gerber came through with a trey with 13:15 remaining in the first half to finally put Worthington on the board.

"I said that I have to step up and have to do something to get the tempo going," Gerber said. "I just think that we were kind of shaky, I don't know what was going on. It might have been a few nerves."

Jena Thompson (20 points) responded with a basket for the Cardinals, but Gerber hit a free throw to pull the Trojans back within four points.

Gabby Boever hit a shot, and Aggen connected on a drive to tie the game at 8-all with just less than 10 minutes remaining.


A pair of Cardinal baskets pushed the lead back to four points, but it was then that the Trojans made their run.

Aggen connected on a trey and a free throw to tie the game, and Gabby Boever connected on a shot to give the Trojans their first lead of the night.

Aggen nailed another trey, and Gerber hit a pair of free throws to cap the 11-0 run and give Worthington a 19-12 advantage.

"Like I told the kids, it's a big game, but stop playing like it's the end of the world," Lindner said. "I told them to get the ball and do what you do. Don't sit there and pass the ball around five or six times. If you get an open look, take the shot. You could see once they started taking the shots, things started to open up."

Gerber finished with six of the last eight points for Worthington as the Trojans had a 28-22 lead at halftime.

"I think it was Kaitlin (that sparked us); she really stepped it up," Gabby Boever said. "All of us played pretty bad in the first half; we really didn't know what to do. Then, Kaitlin came in and stepped it up for us, and that really helped us out."

Gabby Boever and Aggen combined for the first 16 points of the second half as Worthington built a 44-33 lead.

"We wanted to try to keep the tempo down, and I thought the second half we really got out of our game and got into what Worthington wanted to do," Willmar head coach Brad Atchison said. "Could we have played better? Oh yeah, but I think you have to give Worthington a lot of credit for the way they battled."


Willmar rallied midway through the second half, and with a pair of foul shots from Mariel Aamot, the Cardinals had cut the lead to four points, 52-48.

However, Sarah Boever connected on six of the next eight points for the Trojans, and Aggen and Gerber each hit a pair of shots to increase the lead to 15 points, 65-50.

"It was a six-point game there in the second half, and we had four turnovers in a row, and it went from six points to 15 points just like that," Atchison said. "That was tough."

Worthington became more patient offensively in the final minutes, milking the clock and securing a 73-55 victory.

"I think we did really good. We executed and we were very patient in the end, and that was very important," Gerber said. "I think that once we got the tempo going in the second half, it started going a lot better."

After starting the season 2-5, the Cardinals were playing their best basketball at the end of the season.

"It was disappointing because we've come so far this year," Atchison said. "We started off slow, but we're a young team that really came on and played well lately. We would have liked to have had a little better effort and played better, but you have to give Worthington credit, they are a good squad."

Willmar 22 33 -- 55


Worthington 28 45 -- 73

Willmar (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) Evans 0-4-2-10, Goldschmidt 0-2-0-4, Thompson 0-10-0-20, King 0-2-0-4, Brown 1-1-0-5, Aamot 0-3-3-9m, Nelsen 0-1-1-3. Totals 1-23-6-55.

Worthington (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) Gerber 1-4-5-16, G. Boever 2-4-0-14, Aggen 4-3-11-29, Schroeder 1-1-0-5, S. Boever 0-3-2-8, Pavelko 0-0-1-1. Totals 8-15-19-73.

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