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Boys basketball: Trojans score impressive win over Hibbing

WHS sophomore Terbuto Ochothow (11) attempts a shot as Hibbing forward Payton Forer gets a hand on the ball Friday night in Worthington. (Tim Middagh / The Globe)

BY AARON HAGEN

The Globe

WORTHINGTON -- Brock Bruns admitted he’s been in a bit of a shooting slump.

After Friday’s game, any struggles were a distant memory for the sophomore on Worthington’s boys basketball team.

Bruns had a career-high 22 points as the Trojans snapped a five-game losing streak with a 79-71 victory over Hibbing.

“It’s tough losing so many games and trying to beat good teams,” Bruns said. “This will help us a lot. It feels great. Coming off a five-game losing streak, it’s nice to get a win.”

WHS started the season by winning four of its first five games, but then struggled. It’s last win was on Dec. 20.

“We weren’t playing as a team,” WHS senior Karasharo Ojulu said. “Most of the time we’d break down and we’d get down on ourselves and we weren’t making plays.”

Bruns was sharp from the beginning as his first shots gave the Trojans an early lead.

“My shots were kind of in a slump lately, but the team really got me going and getting me wide-open shots,” Bruns said. “I’ve been trying to put in a lot of work outside of practice to get my shots going. My teammates were giving me good looks and I was knocking them down.”

WHS built a 10-point lead early in the first half. While the Worthington offense was clicking, the defense turned up the pressure to turn steals into layups. WHS had 11 steals on the night.

“For us, if one person makes a play, then we all get energized and hyped and the next person makes a play and the next thing you know, the whole team is making plays and getting defensive stops and we’re on a roll from there,” Ojulu said.

Out of halftime, Hibbing made a 9-0 run at WHS and was within nine points, 45-36. However, Bruns answered with a triple to start a 10-0 run.

“The last couple games, the second half has been terrible for us,” Ojulu said. “Today we were able to hold them off. We were just hungry and didn’t want to come out weak in the second half.”

The Trojans led by 19 with 3:27 remaining before the Bluejackets made a run to get within six points. But that was as close as they got as WHS broke it’s losing streak.

“It seems like the last couple of games we’ve been getting close. We’ve been kind of turning that corner a little bit after having some tough losses over the holiday tournament,” WHS head coach Clint Meyer said. “Against the type of team we were playing and the way they were extending the zone, we were going to have to move the ball and win that way. The assist total we had showed we were sharing the ball and got a lot of guys the ball tonight, which was good to see.”

Worthington dished out 26 assists as a team, with Ojulu (19 points) leading with nine and Terbuto Ochothow (21 points) having eight.

“There’s plenty of ball to go around for everybody,” Meyer said. “We’ve got four guys that can score the ball for us and we have other guys who know their role. We were clicking tonight. It was good for Brock to finally see the bottom of the net. He’s been struggling lately, but he’s been putting a lot of extra time in before and after practice. Hopefully he’s got his shot back and that helps us if he can score the basketball and we don’t have to rely on Terbo and Karasharo to carry us that way.”

Hibbing 25 71Worthington 38 79HIBBING (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) Holmes 3-4-3-20, J. Colbaugh 0-1-0-2, Brown 2-1-0-8, Maki 0-3-0-6, Forer 0-1-0-2, Lundell 3-4-2-19, I. Colbaugh 2-4-0-14. Totals 8-18-5-71.WORTHINGTON (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) Ojulu 1-8-0-19, Ochothow 1-6-6-21, Weg 0-1-0-2, Bruns 3-5-3-22, Boever 0-5-0-10, Brandner 0-2-1-5. Totals 5-27-10-79.