STATE BASKETBALL: WHS seniors can hold heads highMINNEAPOLIS — After a tough 51-47 loss to Perham in the Class AA state boys’ basketball quarterfinals, the Trojans sat quietly in the stands of the Target Center.
MINNEAPOLIS — After a tough 51-47 loss to Perham in the Class AA state boys’ basketball quarterfinals, the Trojans sat quietly in the stands of the Target Center.
Nobody spoke. There was at least two chairs between each player. And many of them haphazardly flipped through the tournament program or texted loved ones.
Any athlete or coach will say it’s tough when a season ends, especially when that year concludes with a loss. But for five Worthington boys’ basketball players, it was even more than the end to a season — it was an end to a high school career.
Mitch Weg, Dan Wetering, Tyler Verdoorn, Lucas Henning and Jon Reller wore their red, black and white uniforms for the last time Wednesday night, saying goodbye to a team that was their heart and soul throughout the past several years.
“This was a good experience and I’m glad I got to do it with those guys, my fellow seniors,” Weg said. “It’s just really tough to take that jersey off for the last time.”
Although they each walked out of the locker room with their heads hung low, each senior contributed in not only the state tournament, but in each and every game.
Weg finished the game against Perham with a game-high 24 points and 10 rebounds. Henning had nine points and five rebounds. Reller had two points. Wetering had a blocked shot, forced a turnover and had an assist. Verdoorn was an unselfish player, who was quick to pass the ball to his teammate with the most-open shot.
And they acted as motivation to their other teammates, whether that be by example or as vocal leaders. Their encouragement and drive is something the coaches felt pushed the team along all season long.
“We had tremendous leadership from our seniors all year long,” WHS head coach Ron Vorwald said. “They led the right way through their work ethic and passion for the game of basketball and that showed tonight.
“I’m going to miss our seniors, as they practiced hard and played the game the right way all the time.”
The five seniors have been close on and off the court for a long time now.
They all started playing basketball in third grade and have been on the same basketball court ever since. They are regulars at each other’s houses and spend an enormous amount of free time together.
So to make it to the state tournament for the first time in their final season playing together was something extra special for Weg, Wetering, Henning, Reller and Verdoorn.
“I know that I, personally, have wanted to experience this since I was like four and I’m sure it’s been a long-time dream for all of them too,” Weg said. “It is awesome that we made it. This team is amazing and I’m glad I got to experience this with the other seniors. We’re all really close, we’re really good friends. I just wish all of this could’ve lasted a little longer.”
And their close relationship didn’t go unnoticed by others.
“All five of our seniors are stellar kids on and off the court, as they get along very well and really care about each other and the rest of their teammates,” Vorwald said.
So as the seniors packed up their bags one last time and headed back to the hotel they had two options: they could dwell on the rough way their season ended or they could relish on all of the accomplishments they made with their time wearing the Trojan colors.
Weg admitted there might be some dwelling before rejoicing, but he assured himself and his teammates that they all had plenty to be proud of.
“I love these guys,” Weg said. “We had a great season with a lot of high points. It’s tough to remember those high points right now, but we have to look back on those because we did have a great season. I loved it and I’m going to miss it.”
Daily Globe Sports Reporter Jocelyn Syrstad can be reached at 376-7335.