Mikele Walu made two clutch free throws with 31 seconds remaining, then added a layup after his steal moments later, to help the Worthington Trojans boys basketball team fend off Jordan Tuesday night and earn a 61-54 victory in the quarterfinals of the Section 2AAA Tournament in Worthington.
The third-seeded Trojans improved to 20-6 on the season and now face another battle with No. 2 seed New Ulm in the sectional semifinals Saturday night. WHS won the first game against the Eagles this season, and New Ulm has taken the last two. Game time is 7:45 p.m. on the campus of Gustavus Adolphus in St. Peter.
Tuesday’s game was a tight one throughout. It was Jordan that started sharpest, as five 3-point field goals helped the Hubmen grab a 17-8 edge. Kaleb Knothe scored 10 of the Trojans’ first 12 points, and Worthington battled back to grab a narrow lead before Afton Koch’s driving layup just before the halftime buzzer made it 34-34 at the break.
Koch had 22 points in the first half, but only scored four points in the second 18 minutes. Both teams stepped up their defense in the second half, and the Trojans and Hubmen were locked in a 52-52 stalemate until Abagotte Opiew drained a trey to put WHS in front.
Abagotte Opiew paced Worthington offensively with 15 points and Knothe added 14. Walu finished the night with 10 points and Marenono Opiew had nine.
In other Section 2AAA action Tuesday, it was: New Ulm 58, New Prague 55; Mankato West 67, Marshall 55; and Mankato East 78, St. Peter 46.