Feb. 9—WORTHINGTON — The Worthington Trojans girls basketball team battled throughout Thursday night's matchup with Redwood Valley, but lost in the end 73-53.
The Trojans (5-15, 3-6 Big South) held tough throughout the opening stages of the first half and after that tried to fight back from a double-digit lead. They went on a few mini scoring runs throughout the second half, but couldn't cut into Redwood Valley's lead enough to firmly get back in the game.
The Cardinals' record following the win is 16-7 overall and 5-4 in the Big South Conference.
WHS started things off well, jumping out to a very early 7-3 lead following five consecutive points from Pham Gora and a pair of free throws from Grace Barber.
Trojans head coach CJ Nelson inserted Barber into the starting lineup and she played well throughout the night. The WHS junior scored 19 points to lead the team in scoring and was active defensively.
"I told Grace she was starting tonight and she told me, she goes, 'I won't let you down,' and she didn't," Nelson said. "Grace all year, she does so many good things for us, she works her butt off all the time. She's a great kid, so I'm glad to get her back for one more year."
After the Trojans took a 9-5 lead following a Madison Beckmann jumper, the Cardinals began to assert themselves and go on a 17-4 run. What led to it was a string of five-straight turnovers from the Trojans and points in transition.
Down 22-13, a putback from Barber brought the score back within seven points. But a 3-pointer from Kenzie Lundeen gave Redwood Valley a double-digit lead for the first time with 11 minutes left. Her outside shooting proved to be lethal throughout the game, scoring 24 points in which all of them came off eight made 3-pointers.
"When we knew where their shooters were that helped us and when we lost (Lundeen), we paid for that, and she kind of got them back into the game, but I felt like overall in the end, we didn't quit on defense, we worked really hard," Nelson said. "So that's probably our biggest thing that keeps us in is just the constant moving and playing with a defense."
For most of the remainder of the first half, the Cardinals continued to lead by double digits and they ended the half on an 8-0 run to take a 42-25 lead at the break.
After a stretch where neither team scored for three minutes, a contested mid-range jumper from Regan Schaefer jump started a mini 6-1 scoring run for WHS that cut Redwood Valley's lead to 12 points.
That's the closest WHS would get for the rest of the game though as the Cardinals kept answering and gradually stretching their lead. The closest Worthington would get after that was to 14 points following five-straight points from Barber.
Redwood Valley took a 20-point lead a couple of times late in the game before winning by that many points.
Jayden Spartz finished with nine points for the Trojans, while Schaefer added eight points, Pham Gora added seven, Madison Beckmann six and Janessa Hamann four.
For Redwood Valley, Kendall Huhnerkoch scored 21 points and Kylee Larsen scored 12.
WHS has five more games in the regular season. The next one will be Saturday at Sioux City West (Iowa) before returning home Tuesday night for a matchup with Southwest Minnesota Christian.
"Hopefully we can just continue to build and get better as a team," Nelson said. "I think we have some games down the stretch here where we can compete, and hopefully we can win a couple more."
Redwood Valley 42 31 — 73
Worthington 25 28 — 53