WHS hits 12 3's, beats Spirit Lake 75-64
Boys basketball team challenged by Indians down low, but play solid second half to improve to 11-2
WORTHINGTON -- The Worthington Trojans boys basketball team is recognized this year for defense, but the Spirit Lake Indians were a lot to handle for the locals Monday night at the WHS gym.
With their trio of big men, 6-5 senior Tyler Voss and 6-4 sophomores Ethan and Dylan Stecker, the northwest Iowans repeatedly attempted to infiltrate Worthington’s inside defenders and often succeeded. Voss scored 11 first half points, Ethan Stecker added six, and Dylan scored nine as the Indians trailed by just five points, 41-36, at halftime.
“We had some lapses, I thought. I didn’t think our rotations were sharp,” said WHS head coach Clint Meyer. “We didn’t dig around the post as we could have.”
Playing better dee in the second half and taking advantage of their quick, athletic lineup, the Trojans outscored Spirit Lake 34-28 in the second half for a 75-64 victory. It improved their season record to 11-2 and dropped the Indians to 6-6.
Worthington also enjoyed a good night shooting from long range, connecting on 12 3-point shots.
Meyer said that when the Trojans saw film of Spirit Lake, they noticed that the Iowans get good weak-side help on defense. They thought they could take advantage of that and kick the ball out for long-range shots.
Point guard Mikele Walu made three 3-pointers for his nine points. Abagotte Opiew made two and finished with 11 points. Marenono Opiew also made two and scored 14 points. Kaleb Knothe had two threes and scored 15 points. Zach Hayenga had a pair and scored eight. And Jacari Swinea hit one and scored 10.
Knothe scored Worthington’s first eight points as the Trojans led 8-6 early in the first half. An Abagotte Opiew layup made the score 13-6 and Spirit Lake called a much-needed time-out. Returning to the court, it was largely because of the Indians’ big boys -- Voss and the two Steckers -- that they were able to stay close to the Trojans.
Worthington started fast, however, in the second half. Walu hit a 3-pointer, Abagotte Opiew sunk a 2-pointer under the basket off the glass, and Knothe completed an impressive hustle play with a midcourt steal and driving layup for a 48-36 WHS advantage. With seven minutes remaining Worthington’s lead was cut to five, but at 2:58 a Marenono 3-point shot upped the home team’s lead to 72-57.
Voss finished with 25 points, scoring many of them in impressive fashion by contorting his body in the paint against one or two determined Worthington defenders. Ethan Stecker finished with eight points and Dylan Stetcker had 11.
Worthington’s next game (barring a late addition of a makeup game) is Tuesday, Jan. 31 at home against Jackson County Central.
Meyer’s team feeds on its own ability to work as hard or harder on defense as their opponent, and their pure athleticism is its own drawing card for appreciative fans. It’s not an accident that the Trojans’ use their innate athletic skills to wear teams down.
“That’s what we preach at the beginning of the year. We’re going to use our athleticism to create offense for us, and that’s what we’ve been doing all year,” said Meyer.
Spirit Lake 36 64
Worthington 41 75
SPIRIT LAKE (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) -- Hassel 0-1-1-3, Voss 0-10-5-25, E.Stecker 0-4-0-8, D.Stecker 0-5-1-11, Graves 2-1-0-8, Walz 0-3-3-9. Totals 2-24-10-64.
WORTHINGTON (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) -- Walu 3-0-0-9, A.Opiew 2-2-1-11, M.Opiew 2-4-0-14, Brands 0-2-3-7, Knothe 2-3-3-15, Swinea 1-2-3-10, Hayenga 2-1-0-8, Zeidi 0-0-1-1. Totals 12-14-11-75.