Avenging a pair of regular season losses to Redwood Valley, the upstart Worthington Trojans rolled to a 64-43 win over the stunned Cardinals Thursday night in the Section 3AA title game in Marshall.
The Trojans (21-6) took advantage of their interior size to outrebound the Cardinals (26-2) 40-20 and held All-State candidate Mike Busack to just eight points, including zero in the second half.
With the victory the Trojans have advanced to the Class AA State Quarterfinals beginning Wednesday in the Twin Cities.
The heartbroken Cardinals wrap up another memorable season that saw them win 26 of 28 games and claim the?SWC title.
The game just seemed to have the wrong feel from the get-go, despite it being a 4-4 game four minutes in.
Busack picked up his second foul at the 13:26 mark of the half and that changed the complexion of the first 18 minutes as he was forced to be passive defensively (not wanting to pick up his third foul) against a team that continuously fed the post.
As advertised, it was a defensive first half as the Trojans would lead 13-8 with 7:48 still on the clock.
Senior Beau Stough buried a huge three-pointer to cut the lead back to two and junior Alec Koster was fouled on a three-point attempt and made all three shots from the stripe to cut the deficit to one – 17-16 - with 4:30 to go.
Busack – who averaged over 27 ppg during the season – would get the Cardinal fans on their feet with a thunderous two-handed baseline jam, but unbelievably it would be his last points of the game.
The Trojans would counter with four straight before Jordan Ford hit a pair of free throws to make it 23-20 with 49 seconds remaining in the half.
Spencer Grafing answered with a three with under 10 seconds to give the Trojans a six-point lead but Koster countered with a huge three of his own with under five seconds to cut the deficit to 26-23 at the half.
In the second half the?Cardinals hung around as Stough’s putback kept the score 32-28 with 11:13 to play.
Following a Cardinal timeout however the Trojans would score 13 unanswered to put the game away, leading 45-28 with 5:45 to go.
Koster led the way for the Cardinals going 7-for-7 from the line on the way to 19 points.
Stough battled to the end, scoring 12 points, grabbing 10 boards and adding three steals.
Busack had eight points and five rebounds, going 0-for-5 from long range, 0-for-8 in the second half and not attempting a single free throw.
As a team the Cardinals shot well below their season average, going 15-of-46 (32.6 percent) from the floor and 3-of-15 from downtown.
They did finish 10-of-11 from the charity stripe but had just seven assists as a team with no player finishing with more than one.
Page 2 of 2 - The?Trojan bigman were just too much for the Cardinals as Morgan Traylor finished with 26 points, 12 rebounds and four assists.
In two prior meetings, Traylor had scored just 19 combined points.
Mitch Weg was also a beast in the post, scoring 16 points and grabbing 12 rebounds.
The community of Redwood Falls should be proud, with unbelievable turnouts for all four of the Cardinals postseason games.
“It was a tough loss but you have to give Worthington a lot of credit,” coach Markus Okeson said. “They played great defensively and hurt us on the boards.”
“As a coaching staff we really want to thank the community for all of their support... it’s really appreciated.”
Section 3AA Championship
Redwood Valley 43
Cardinal scoring - Koster 19, Stough 12, Busack 8, Fischer 2, Ford 2
Trojan scoring - Traylor 26, Weg 16, Henning 8, Vorwald 6, Wetering 3, Grafing 3, Potter 2