The Worthington Trojans trailed by just four points at halftime, but Mankato East started strong in the second half and ultimately built a large lead en route to a 60-42 victory over WHS in a Section 2AAA Girls Basketball Tournament semifinal game Monday night in Mankato.
The Trojans, whose season came to an end with a final record of 16-11, hung tough with the Cougars early. Worthington led in the early minutes of the game before the Cougars went on a brief 6-0 surge to snare a 10-5 edge. The Trojans, though, responded, going on a 9-0 run to grab a 14-10 lead. Brooklyn Scheitel-Taylor started the streak with a layup, Ellie Weg converted a three-point play and two Olivia Hayenga baskets completed the spurt.
Mankato East, the top seed in the tournament, was undeterred. The Cougars would recover soon enough and eventually take their biggest advantage of the half, 30-21, following a 3-pointer from Macy Birkholz. The Trojans did score seven of the final eight points of the half, however, cutting the lead to four by intermission, 31-27.
The second half did not go the way of fifth-seeded Worthington, as it would score just 15 points over the final 18 minutes. Mankato East scored the first five points of the second half, and the Trojans never got closer than seven points of the lead the rest of the way. The Cougars led by as many as 21 late in the game before finishing off the 18-point win.
Mankato East’s Mackenzie Schweim topped all scorers with 19 points, while Birkholz had 11 points and Peyton Stevermer and Ellie Edberg nine points apiece for the Cougars, now 23-4 this season. Mankato East will play Marshall at Minnesota State, Mankato on Thursday night for the sectional title and a state tournament berth.
For the Trojans, Scheitel-Taylor was the top scorer with 14 points and Tarren Spartz had 11. Hayenga and Dasia Potter were next with six points apiece.