The Worthington Trojans are headed to the Section 2AAA boys basketball championship game as they beat New Ulm 65-49 in a semifinal matchup at Gustavus Adolphus in St. Peter.
The third-seeded Trojans, 21-6 on the year, came out on the top in their fourth matchup of the year against the second-seeded Eagles. WHS will next play top-seeded Mankato East at 7 p.m. Thursday at Gustavus Adolphus with a berth in the state tournament on the line.
The Trojans got up early in the game, 8-4, but New Ulm went on a 12-0 surge at that point to take an eight-point lead. Worthington, though, fought back, and wound up taking a 30-28 edge into halftime on a Zach Hayenga 3-pointer with about 10 seconds left before the buzzer.
The Trojans proceeded to never relinquish that lead, as they played stifling defense while limiting New Ulm to just 21 second-half-points. Kaleb Knothe, meanwhile, scored 11 of his team-best 13 points in the second half for WHS, which continued to gradually pull away --- particularly in the final minutes.
Once again, Worthington had a balanced attack offensively. Point guard Mikele Walu contributed 10 points, while Marenono Opiew was next with nine. Three Trojans – Zach Hayenga, Andrew Mulder and Jacari Swinea – each contributed seven points as nine different Worthington players scored.
Colton Benson, a thorn in the side of WHS during previous matchups this season, topped New Ulm with 20 points, but the Trojans made it difficult for him throughout. The Eagles finish their year at 21-6; they and the Trojans split their four meetings.
The Marshall Tigers, down 31-19 early in the third quarter, closed out the game by outpointing St. Peter 42-14 and captured the Section 2AAA girls basketball championship Friday night with a 61-45 triumph over the Saints at Gustavus Adolpus College in St. Peter.
With the win, the Tigers advance to this week’s Class AAA state tournament, which begins Wednesday.
Brianna Simpson led the Tigers, who trailed 28-17 at halftime, with 25 points while adding five assists. Taleigha Bigler contributed 12 points, and Lauren Wherry had eight.
Marshall, now 21-9 on the season, will take on Becker, which is 25-3, in its first-round game Wednesday. It’s scheduled for 10 a.m. at Maturi Pavilion in Minneapolis.
Southwest Christian, which entered Friday night’s Section 3A championship game on a 10-game victory streak while winning 22 of 23 games, saw its season come to end as the Minneota Vikings earned a 60-51 triumph to advance to the state Class A Girls Basketball Tournament.
Minneota went on a 8-1 run late in the contest to knock off the Eagles, who finished the season with a 24-6 record. The Vikings will open state tourney play at 11 a.m. Thursday against Mountain Iron-Buhl at Maturi Pavilion.
In the Section 3AA girls basketball title tilt Friday night, it was New London-Spicer topping Luverne 44-32. The Cardinals’ offense struggled, particularly in the first half as they trailed 24-8 at the break. Kira John and Averill Sehr finished with eight points each for Luverne, which finished the year 25-4.