Worthington girls come alive in second half, thwart Albert Lea 77-59

Trailing at halftime, the Worthington High School girls basketball team outscored Albert Lea 49-27 in the second half Thursday night in Worthington

Worthington Trojans Ellie Weg (34) finds the seam between Albert Lea Tigers defenders Neveah Wacholz (23) and Kristina Espinosa (15) for a layup during a Thursday night game.
Worthington's Ellie Weg (34) finds the seam between Albert Lea Tigers defenders Neveah Wacholz (23) and Kristina Espinosa (15) for a layup Thursday night in Worthington.
Tim Middagh/The Globe

WORTHINGTON -- The second half was much better than the first half, and the Worthington High School girls basketball team defeated Albert Lea 77-59 in front of a Parents Night and Meet the Trojans Night crowd at the local gym Thursday night.

Albert Lea hit six 3-point shots to Worthington’s zero in the first half and took a 32-28 lead into intermission. But the Trojans stepped up their game to outscore the Tigers 49-27 over the final 18 minutes.

The game was Worthington’s first since shocking state-ranked Jordan 67-57 in Worthington on Saturday, and the result improved head coach Jessica Hogan’s squad to 4-11 on the season while dropping Albert Lea to 1-12.

Worthington Trojans Phamananewyou Gora looks over her shoulder as her twin sister Newyouman makes a layup during a game against Albert Lea Thursday night.
Worthington Trojan Newyouman makes a layup Thursday night against Albert Lea.
Tim Middagh/The Globe

For much of the contest, Albert Lea looked much better than its record, and with every minute the Tigers stayed ahead or within striking distance of the Trojans, their confidence grew. But midway in the second half the Trojans began to pull away. Six-foot senior Ellie Weg began asserting herself inside halfway through the half, and 5-11 senior partner Tarren Spartz did the same. With 9:21 to play, WHS led 50-47. It was 60-50 with 5:49 remaining and 64-50 at the 5-minute mark.

Albert Lea had no more answers left.


Hogan said her team picked up the tempo in the second half and wore the Tigers down.

The Worthington Trojans boys tennis team will feature lots of new faces as the team graduated eight of its 10 varsity starters from last season.
The wrestling team had an excellent season with a record of 23-2, and will be competing in the state meet in Rochester which starts on March 30.
Abagotte Opiew and Kaleb Knothe were selected to the boy's All-Conference White Division team for the Trojans. WHS senior Tarren Spartz was selected to the girls' All-Conference White Division team.

Not so much, however, in the first half.

“We seemed a little bit sluggish,” she said. “We missed some easy shots, just got out of the gate a little slow. Second half was much better.”

Weg finished with 22 points and Spartz had 13. Newyouman Gora tallied 15 and Pham Gora scored 12.

Though for the game the Trojans made just two 3-point attempts while Albert Lea converted nine, they were excellent from the free throw line, sinking 23 of 32.

“We were able to recover and did some really nice things in the second half. We have to carry that over to tomorrow night (at home against St. Peter),” Hogan explained. “I didn’t like the way we were defending in the first half. We gave them too much of a cushion. Second half was much better team defense.”

Albert Lea senior Kendall Kenis was lights-out on her 3’s. She made six, and most of them were all net. She finished with a team-high 28 points. Neveah Wacholz hit two 3’s and finished with 19 points.

After the game, Hogan said her Trojans have come a long way since the beginning of the 2022-23 season, improving their intensity both offensively and defensively and “coming together” in their team chemistry. It took a while for that to show Thursday night, but they eventually were able to sap the Tigers’ confidence for the 19-point win.


Albert Lea 32 59

Worthington 28 77

ALBERT LEA (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) -- Maligaya 1-0-0-3, Kenis 6-2-6-28, Johnson 0-2-0-4, Wacholz 2-4-5-19, Espinosa. Totals 9-8-11-59.

WORTHINGTON (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) -- Beckmann 0-0-8-8, N.Gora 0-6-3-15, Weg 0-10-2-22, T.Spartz 0-3-7-13, P.Gora 2-3-0-12, Zeidi 0-0-3-3. Totals 2-22-23-77.

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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