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Prep boys basketball: Worthington ready to step up

WORTHINGTON -- The 2015-16 Worthington Trojans boys basketball team is hoping a new style of defense, a greater familiarity with the head coach, and the leadership of three returning starters will turn into more victories.

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JESSE TRELSTAD/DAILY GLOBE Worthington High returning letterwinners (left to right) Tyler Linder, Tyler Van Hove, Gbrown Ochothow, Zach Boever and Nathan Braaksma get together for a photo during practice on Friday.

WORTHINGTON - The 2015-16 Worthington Trojans boys basketball team is hoping a new style of defense, a greater familiarity with the head coach, and the leadership of three returning starters will turn into more victories.
Coach Clint Meyer - in his first year leading the WHS program during the 2014-15 season - installed a sophomore as a team leader and brought up a freshman to the varsity in the hopes of bringing energy to the team. The Trojans posted a 4-19 record, but Zach Boever and Tyler Linder showed promise. They’re back, along with a third starter, senior Gbrown Ochothow. Those three will provide the basis of what they all hope will be a campaign featuring many more wins.
Meyer is bringing another new thing to the team this year - a “pack line defense” that he calls a “help style defense” which calls for strict self-discipline.
“It’s going to help us not foul as much and contain to the basket,” said Meyer prior to Friday afternoon practice.
Meyer explained the defense at the team’s first preseason session. It was a difficult defense to grasp at first, he said, as he needed to remind his players to stay in their gaps and avoid the tendency to jump out and over-defend. Now, after two weeks, Meyer said the Trojans are taking to it as they better understand in the coach’s second year what will be expected of them.
On Tuesday, all that the Worthingtonians are learning will be put to the test. The season opener will be against Fairmont at Fairmont on that night. Then the following Saturday WHS will go on the road again to Waseca before preparing for its first home game Dec. 4 against Windom Area.
Besides learning a new defense, the Trojans will need to find more scoring. Two of the team’s main offensive weapons, Oliver Wolyniec and Will Mulder, have graduated.
“Early on, we’ll probably struggle to score with the ball,” Meyer admitted. “But Zach Boever came on strong late last year and had some nice scoring games. And Gbrown will be counted on more.”
The 6-2 junior guard, Boever, knows much will be expected of him this winter. And he says he’s ready. He spent the fall season lifting weights and shooting a lot of basketballs. And if that’s not enough, more confidence comes from being a member of a large and very athletic Boever family.
Several brothers and sisters came through the WHS basketball programs before him, and they didn’t hold back with their advice.
“Play as hard as you can, just be the best you can be,” Zach remembers their tips. He added, with a smile, “It’s always nice to have the older ones, then you can try to be better than them … I just try to have people remember me for hard play.”
Meyer describes Boever, who averaged between seven and eight points per game last season, as a solid scorer and vocal leader. He comes with a good jump shot and can also drive to the basket, and is capable of playing the point. He’s also an outstanding, hard-working defensive player.
Boever believes the new defense will be a boon for the team. “I think it’s going to help us a lot. Because we have quicker guards, so it will help us that way. Since we don’t have a real tall guy, it’ll help us down low, too.”
Linder, at 6-3, led the Trojans in rebounding last year as a freshman with about 6.5 per game. Meyer wants him to “be an enforcer around the glass.” Strong physically, he’ll draw the tough assignments in the post.
Ochothow returns to the point position. Meyer likes what he’s seeing of Ochothow in practice - that he’s finding a good balance between running the offense and working on his own game. A good penetrator, the 5-10 senior is demonstrating greater control in workouts. He’ll need to become more of a scorer, at least early, Meyer said.
Two other Trojans will provide impact. Tyler Van Hove, a 5-11 senior guard, played a lot early during last year’s season before suffering an injury. He brings a lot of energy to the team and likes to play defense. Nathan Braaksma, a 6-2 senior post, is another hard worker who possesses a pretty 15-foot jump shot and isn’t afraid to crash the boards.
Meyer is a believer in strong defense. That was instilled in him when he was a Trojan player, himself, under the direction of then-head coach Ron Vorwald.
“Defense can turn into offense … Defense is a constant. If you can play good defense and rebound, you can stay in games,” Meyer said.
Offensively, Meyer hopes to be up-tempo and always quick to take advantage of openings. The Trojans will run when they can, he explained, but they will be careful not to let their aggressiveness get out of control. After all, they hope to keep opponents’ scores in the 60s, and that will require discipline.

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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