WORTHINGTON -- Basketball teams coached by Jamie Pap always play strong team defense. The Worthington Trojans learned the hard way Thursday night as the Southwest Christian Eagles produced an 80-51 boys basketball victory.
In Worthington’s first home game of the season, 6-5 senior Kade Fey scored 29 points for the Eagles, and teammate Avery Pater led the defensive effort.
Pater, a 6-foot senior guard, was tasked with guarding Worthington’s explosive scoring threat, Terbuto Ochothow, and he was up to the task. Ochothow finished with 14 points, but he was never able to put a spark in the home team’s offense.
“Pater works very, very hard, and he sets the tone for our team defense,” Pap said about Southwest’s top defensive player. “That’s what we really, really push at the beginning of the year, to work hard on defense, and offense takes care of itself.”
Southwest Christian (2-0) scored the first five points of the game and upped its lead to 14-5 on a 3-point shot by Fey, who showed a deft touch from beyond the arc and also down low. Worthington meshed 3-point shots by Ochothow and Marenono Opiew to cut the margin to 14-11, but Southwest went on an 11-point run to increase its lead to 25-11.
Southwest took its 41-29 halftime advantage and had it shortened to 41-31 when Ochothow scored to begin the second half. But again, the Eagles asserted themselves soon after by scoring the next seven points.
Solid team defense was a constant.
“The whole team works extremely hard in practice. In the practices we go just as hard as in our games,” said Pap, who added that he was determined that his players compete with energy throughout the contest. “Especially playing against a player like Ochothow. He can get hot quickly.”
Pater also had a good night offensively, with 17 points. Jacob Van Dam and Hunter Vander Haar both had 10.
Joe Boever scored 10 points off the bench to aid Worthington’s effort.
The Trojans (1-1) have two proven starters to begin the 2019-20 season -- Ochothow and 6-6 senior forward Brock Bruns, who finished with nine points on three 3-point field goals. There are several newcomers coach Clint Meyer is working into the mix, and Thursday night amounted to an important learning experience for them.
“It’s kind of an eye-opener for some of our guys, the level we’re going to have to compete at on varsity,” Meyer said after the game. “Those guys (the Eagles) play their tails off. Give them credit. They came out hard, and we came out a little flat.”
Meyer said that when the Trojans’ shots weren’t falling, they were sometimes slow to engage defensively. “(They were releasing one or two guys every time, and we stood around and watched for the first one or two seconds.”