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Boys basketball: Trojans have winning attitude

WORTHINGTON -- The 2017-18 Worthington Trojans boys basketball team is intent on improving on last year's winning record, says head coach Clint Meyer.

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An experienced group of Worthington Trojans headline the boys basketball team this year. They include (kneeling, from left) Pedro Manzanarez, Obang Ojulu, Ben Koepsell, Gavin Calmus, (back) Dawet Asefa, Nathan Boneschans, Tyler Linder, Logan Huisman and OD Othow. Missing is Stewart Merrigan. (Doug Wolter/The Globe)

WORTHINGTON -- The 2017-18 Worthington Trojans boys basketball team is intent on improving on last year’s winning record, says head coach Clint Meyer.

And to that end, senior Logan Huisman points to balance and depth.

“We have a lot of quick guys on our team. And we also have a lot of big guys. If we can’t get the shooting going, we can get it going inside. And the other way around, too,” he said this week during pre-season practice.

The Trojans open the regular season Thursday night in a girl/boy varsity doubleheader in Worthington against Windom Area. The girls game starts at 6 p.m. The boys game is slated for 7:30 p.m.

“We have some high expectations,” Meyer declared. “We’re hoping to build off of our 14-10 record. They want to be a contender in the Big South this year.”

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Meyer and the Trojans are counting on the return of several experienced players led by rugged 6-3 senior post Tyler Linder, Huisman, 6-7 senior Stewart Merrigan and 6-3 senior guard OD Othow. Others who saw varsity action last season, and even a few others who are yet to make their mark, said Meyer, may be ready to create an impression this winter.

Worthington and all the other Big South Conference hopefuls are hoping that the 2017 West division champion, Marshall, will be hampered somewhat with the loss of key players to graduation. The second-place team, JCC, also lost some big-time performers.

The Trojans will have to play without all-conference selection Zach Boever, who also graduated. But much talent returns.

Linder averaged around 13 points and 8 rebounds per game last season. A four-year starter, he’ll be the go-to guy inside after earning all-conference honorable mention status in his junior campaign.

“His biggest strength is going to be his ability to rebound on both ends of the floor. He’s not tall, but he works hard for position,” said Meyer.

Huisman was a forward in his junior campaign, but he’ll be moving toward the post in his senior year. A third-year starter, he can also bounce outside and hit the jumper.

“He’s not afraid to stick his nose in. He’s got that rebounding mentality,” Meyer said.

Another inside presence, Merrigan does not have the rugged build of Linder or Huisman, but he knows his way around the paint. He can block shots, rebound and score.

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Nathan Boneschans, a 6-4 senior, can also rebound, and he shows good touch from 15 feet, too.

The left-handed Othow is a ball-handler and a scorer who’s good at slashing through traffic. He’ll draw some tough defensive assignments.

Others with varsity experience include seniors Ben Koepsell (guard), Gavin Calmus (forward) and Dawet Asefa (forward). A 5-11 freshman guard, Terburto Ochothow, who saw some varsity time as an eighth-grader late last season, is being groomed for an important role. Meyer calls him a true point guard and a highly intelligent player who understands the game well.

Coach Meyer believes he can play nine or 10 players confidently in a scheme that relies on pressure man-to-man defense with “some other looks” sprinkled in. Offensively, there will be no moss growing on the Trojans.

“We’re going to try to push the ball as much as possible. We’ve got outside quickness at our guard spots,” Meyer said.

If there’s an area Meyer would like to see noticeable improvement in, it’s outside shooting. The team wasn’t a strong 3-point shooting team last season, but with persistent practice, the Trojans may be able to lift their percentages.

Players appear more than ready to test themselves in an actual game.

“I think we’re very good athletically. We all want to be out here together,” said Huisman. “We don’t look at any team as a team we can’t beat. We think we have a chance against anybody.”

Related Topics: BOYS BASKETBALL
Doug Wolter joined the Worthington Globe in December of 1983 as a sports reporter. He later became sports editor, and then news editor and managing editor. In 2006 he moved to Mankato with his wife, Sandy, and served as an editor at the Mankato Free Press. In 2013 he and Sandy returned to Worthington to take up the job of sports editor at The Globe, and they have been in Worthington since.

Doug can be reached at dwolter@dglobe.com.
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