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A new beginning for WHS boys basketball

DOUG WOLTER/DAILY GLOBE First-year Worthington High School boys basketball head coach Jared Keaveny (center) directs his players at the Trojans’ first practice of the 2013-14 season Monday afternoon at the WHS gym.

WORTHINGTON — A thin carpet of snow greeted local residents Monday morning. That, coupled with a very discernable winter chill in the air, signaled the coming onset of winter.

And if that wasn’t warning enough, by Monday afternoon Worthington High School boys basketball players began running their squeaky sneakers on a shiny WHS gym floor. It was the first practice of the upcoming 2013-14 prep boys basketball season.

Winter may not be here officially, but it’s surely here unofficially.

In Worthington, Monday marked the beginning not only of the first practice, but of a new era. Ron Vorwald, who coached the Trojans to a state tournament berth in 2012 and brought last season’s team to a south section final, has retired after 24 seasons. In his place comes Jared Keaveny, who for the previous seven years headed the program at Campbell-Tintah Public Schools in Campbell, Minn.

On Monday, Keaveny went right to work with the new Trojans, allowing nary a moment of dead time. Station to station he went, along with his assistants, from drill to drill, from instruction to instruction. He kept it light at first (after all, this was the initial practice of the season), he winked often and assured his troops that they needn’t worry about making a mistake.

He made sure everyone knew about the team motto: “Play hard, play together.” And on a door on the far wall, where the equipment is stored, one could read the coaches’ expectations for players —among them, having a great attitude every day, and putting the program first with actions, behavior and language. Team season goals were also displayed — such as winning the Southwest Conference, winning 20 or more games and, of course, sweeping Marshall.

Worthington High School basketball has enjoyed much success in recent memory. The Trojans were 17-9 last season and 21-7 the season before. They won 21, 19 and 20 games the three seasons before that. The team’s last losing season was in 2006-07.

This year, WHS will be without graduates Morgan Traylor (a first-team All-Daily Globe selection in 2013) and Jon Vorwald (second team All-Area). But judging by the team’s posted goals for 2013-14, expectations do not seem to have changed.

At the conclusion of Monday’s practice, Keaveny admitted he hadn’t slept much the night before. But he pronounced his satisfaction with Monday afternoon’s result.

“We’ve got a lot of speed. And we’ve got a lot of guys who can put the ball in the basket,” he said, adding that with the talent on hand, transition basketball can be stressed, putting an emphasis on allowing the players to “make things happen on their own.”

Doug Wolter

Doug Wolter is the Daily Globe sports editor. He served as sports reporter, then sports editor, news editor and finally managing editor at the Daily Globe for 22 years before leaving for seven years to work as night news editor at the Mankato Free Press in Mankato. Doug now lives in Worthington with his wife, Sandy. They have three children and seven grandchildren. Doug, retired after a lengthy career in fast-pitch softball, enjoys reading, strumming his acoustic guitar and hanging around his grandchildren. He also writes books on fiction. Two of his stories, "The Genuine One" and "The Old Man in Section 129" have been distributed through a national publisher.

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