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Prep boys basketball: New format comes to Daily Globe Trojan Holiday Classic

WORTHINGTON -- The Mankato West Scarlets will look to keep their excellent record intact this week at the Daily Globe Trojan Holiday Classic.But as impressive as the Scarlets have been, fans will be watching to see if they'll have to take a back ...

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ZACH HACKER/DAILY GLOBE Worthington point guard OD Othow looks to make a pass to teammate Zach Boever (11) during a Trojans’ home game earlier this season.

WORTHINGTON - The Mankato West Scarlets will look to keep their excellent record intact this week at the Daily Globe Trojan Holiday Classic.
But as impressive as the Scarlets have been, fans will be watching to see if they’ll have to take a back seat to the 10-1 Murray County Central Rebels.
And that’s not all. The host Worthington Trojans will be defending their home floor Tuesday and Wednesday in the 18th renewal of the boys basketball tournament. Sibley East, another traditional Classic team, will also be in attendance. And a young and talented Fulda Raiders squad gives the tourney something new - a fifth team.
Mankato West defeated Perham 69-46 to win the 2014 Classic varsity championship. The Scarlets, who won five consecutive Classic titles from 2004-2008, also prevailed in 2013 with a 60-52 triumph over Perham. This year, Perham opted out of the tournament while Murray County Central and Fulda joined in, meaning there will be no champion named this year.
But there’s still plenty of basketball on tap, which ought to put post-Christmas smiles on the lips of Trojan fans who’ve seen their boys play games in the WHS gym just twice this season. Two more Trojan games - on back-to-back nights - will give the home fans a real good look at the locals.
On Tuesday, varsity action will have MCC going against Sibley East in a 6 p.m. contest, followed a 7:30 p.m. tilt between Worthington and Mankato West. On Wednesday, Mankato West will play Sibley East at 5 p.m. with Worthington and Fulda slated for a 6:30 p.m. tipoff.
In junior varsity play on Tuesday, MCC plays Sibley East at 1 p.m., followed by a 2:30 p.m. showdown between Worthington and Mankato West. On Wednesday, Mankato West plays Sibley East at 1 p.m. with Worthington and Fulda to follow.
Mankato West takes a 4-4 record into the Classic. The Scarlets are led by 6-3 senior forward Jake Dale, a nephew of Worthington High School activities director Josh Dale, who is the leading rebounder and second-leading scorer in school history. Jake Makela, a 5-10 junior guard, is another all-conference performer who provides the Scarlets with a dangerous 1-2 punch.
At 10-1, the MCC Rebels - whose only loss this year came Nov. 24 to Tracy-Milroy-Balaton - are led by 6-5 senior forward Grant Rohrer, a first-team All-Daily Globe pick who has been around 24 points and 14 rebounds per game so far this season.
Sibley East (4-5) is young. Gavin Bates, a 6-1 sophomore, earned a starting position last year as a freshman and is capable of putting up a lot of points. Senior 5-11 guard Collin Pautsch and 6-8 junior center Devon Schultz have helped to transition last year’s guard-oriented Wolverines team into a taller and more deliberate unit.
Fulda (3-7) is another fairly young unit. The Raiders are also not tall, with none of their players taller than 6-3. But with their fast-paced mentality and aggressive nature, they can surprise. Justin Dierks, a 5-9 junior guard, is a strong outside shooter and teammates Leighton Gehl (5-9 sophomore guard) and Brian Fenske (6-2 senior guard) provide the team a trio capable of doing damage.
Worthington (3-5) is hoping to turn around a disappointing 4-19 record from 2014-15. The team sustained a blow recently when point guard Gbrown Ochothow suffered a season-ending ACL injury, but that still leaves the team with a few talented and experienced members. Zach Boever, a 6-2 junior forward, is an outstanding athlete capable of scoring big and shutting down rivals defensively. Tyler Linder, a 6-3 sophomore forward, led the Trojans last year in rebounding and provides heft underneath.

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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