WORTHINGTON -- It was hard to know what to make of the 2018-19 Worthington Trojans boys basketball campaign. The team began the year like gangbusters, routing Windom Area 111-51, New Ulm 82-60 and Luverne 79-47.
And then, they lost six of their next seven before recovering to win 11 of their final 16. Their final record of 15-11 looks laudable in the record book, but it doesn’t fully explain the highs and lows that took place.
Head coach Clint Meyer brings a new unit into the fray that features one of the two All-Big South Conference players that spurred the Trojans on last season, plus a few role players he hopes will take another step forward in 2019-20.
“We’ve got a couple of guys back from last year. We’re going to rely heavily on Terbo and Bruns -- they were starters last year. I think we’re going to be similar to last year (in our style). We’re going to be longer than we were last year, and maybe a little more athletic,” Meyer said this week.
Worthington’s primary offensive talent figures to be 6-0 junior guard Terbuto Ochothow, an outstanding all-around performer who averaged around 22 points, five rebounds and five assists per game in his sophomore year. Last summer, he played AAU basketball in the Twin Cities to work on his shooting -- which should whet WHS fans’ appetite in anticipation.
Ochothow and fellow all-conference athlete Karasharo Ojulu could look like a tag-team pair of superheroes at times, but when strong defenses were able to keep them from lighting up the scoreboard, the Trojans could be beaten.
With Ojulu now graduated, 6-6 junior forward Brock Bruns will be called upon for a bigger role. He played well last year, averaging around 10 points per game and showing off a smart outside jumper. This year, Meyer says he’ll need to be more of an inside presence.
Meyer believes he’ll be able to insert eight to 10 players into games. There will be more scoring by committee -- WHS won’t be able to rely on two players scoring 30 points apiece like they sometimes got last season.
Will Brandner, a 6-2 senior forward, was a starter early last season and will play a key role. So will 6-2 senior forward Emmitt Bickett, who brings added toughness though he’s undersized for a post player.
Meer Othow saw some minutes last year as a freshman. The 6-1 sophomore guard is quick, athletic, and penetrates well.
Meyer thinks the Trojans can be a better 3-point shooting team than last year, when Ochothow, Ojulu and Bruns impressed fans with their long jumpers. But the team must be more patient in the half-court, said the coach.
“If shots aren’t falling for us, I think we’ve got to do a better job of recognizing that,” he said.
The Big South Conference figures to be as strong as always, with Marshall and Jackson County Central providing stiff tests for everyone. Luverne should be improved, Meyer said. The Trojans will have several excellent non-conference teams on their schedule.
“Every night’s going to be a battle, that’s for sure. We can’t take any nights off. We’ve gotta be ready to compete,” he stated.
Worthington opens the season Tuesday at Spirit Lake, Iowa, then returns home Thursday against Southwest Minnesota Christian.