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Girls basketball: Trojans girls feature fluid offense, aggressive defense

WORTHINGTON -- No two Worthington girls basketball games should look the same this season. At least not if things go according to plan. The Trojans girls run an offense described by Eric Lindner as "fluid." "You're running your reads based on wha...

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Tim Middagh/Daily Globe Worthington Trojans basketball letter winners are, back row left to right, Anneke Weg,Transfer from Marshall Nyamer Diew, Emily Shaffer, front row left to right, Emma Thuringer and Ahmitara Alwal.

WORTHINGTON -- No two Worthington girls basketball games should look the same this season.

At least not if things go according to plan. The Trojans girls run an offense described by Eric Lindner as “fluid.”

“You’re running your reads based on what the defense is doing,” the coach said. “So we have a lot of screening, a lot of cutting and a lot of movement. If they do it right, it will never look the same twice. In other words, there are so many reads off of it, that you shouldn’t be able to -- if you came to a game -- scout the offense, because it’s completely based on what the defense is doing and how you read the defense.”

They pair that offense with an aggressive defense that plays strictly man-to-man and presses full court at all times. The hope is that the defense can force turnovers and create points in the fast break.

“We like to get turnovers and hopefully those turnovers turn into layups,” he said.

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Pressing in the full court on defense and running up the floor on fast breaks adds up to a lot of constant movement for the players, so the team’s depth is incredibly important. The younger players will have to play a lot of minutes as the season wears on.

“Overall, we’re looking to play a lot of kids -- a lot of movement, a lot of running -- getting up and down the floor and using our depth,” Lindner said. “Our younger kids are going to be up and down. Maybe one game they’ll have a good game and maybe another they’ll struggle. But we’re looking to develop that consistency.”

While the younger players develop throughout the season, the Trojans will lean on their more experienced players such as returning senior guard Ahmitara Alwal, senior forward Emily Shaffer, junior guard Emma Thuringer and junior center Anneke Weg.

“We’re looking for consistency with our older kids,” the coach said. “For instance Ahmitara  -- I want to know every game that she is playing consistently. I want to know she is scoring in double figures, and she isn’t turning the basketball over more than three-to-five times, and she’s getting three-to-five assists per game. I want to be able to build consistency with the older kids.”

Last season,Thuringer averaged 10 points per game, while Shaffer averaged nine, Alwal seven and Weg six. Alwal had 73 steals and 41 assists, and Thuringer had 48 steals and 27 assists.

The early part of the season, the coach says, could be a little bit bumpy as the girls jel and learn how to run the offense properly. With all of the reads and quick decisions the girls have to make inside of the offense, they are bound to make mistakes here and there. It is also important that the types of passes they use align with the results they are aiming for.

“We’re really trying to work on making the right pass,” Lindner said. “We rely too much on the overhead pass instead of using a bounce pass. So instead of throwing a bounce pass, maybe I’m throwing you an overhead pass that you can’t catch and finish in the same stride. You’d have to adjust.”

This year’s Trojans are a long, athletic team with three 6-footers and three more players standing 5-10. A notable addition to this year’s squad is Nyamer Diew, a 6-0 freshman forward who transferred to Worthington after lettering for Marshall as an eighth grader last year..

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“We have a lot of length and we are very quick as far as movement up the floor and side to side,” Lindner said.

Last year’s Trojans struggled in close games on the way to a 14-9 record -- a bit disappointing for a program that has consistently floated around the 20-win mark in recent years. But this year, they are working on being able to close out games and extend leads late, rather than allowing opponents to charge back and take late leads.

“Maybe last year, we weren’t able to hold onto those leads, so this year we’d like to be a team that can finish games,” Lindner said. “When you’ve got a lead by six, you can extend the lead and get defensive stops.”

Worthington opens its season tonight at 7:30 p.m. in Fairmont and then plays a double-header with the boys on Friday in Windom.

Related Topics: GIRLS BASKETBALL
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