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The Drill: When Ahrendt gets the ball, rivals are in a pickle

Luverne High School boys basketball player Gannon Ahrendt is the player the Cardinals look to for putting points on the scoreboard

Luverne Cardinals boys basketball player Gannon Ahrendt.
Luverne Cardinals boys basketball player Gannon Ahrendt.
Tim Middagh / The Globe
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LUVERNE -- It rarely happens in high school basketball that a player scores his 1,000th career point in his junior season. But the Luverne Cardinals’ Gannon Ahrendt has played varsity basketball since he was an eighth-grader, so it’s no doubt his innate talent was noticed early.

Gannon reached that thousand-point career milestone on Feb. 17 in a game against Hills-Beaver Creek, and by then he was on Basketball Cloud No. 9. But things weren’t so wonderful for him as the hoops season began. He sustained an injury last fall in the school’s final football game, and he missed much of the first half of the basketball season.

Without him, the team struggled early, losing 11 of its first 14 games. Then came a turnaround, and the Cardinals owned a 10-13 record heading into Section 3AA tournament action.

“We started off with a pretty slow start this year, me coming back from an injury. I fractured my left fibula in the last playoff game in football against Fairmont. It was a frustrating thing at practice, not being able to do anything, not being able to help,” he said.

Ahrendt, who made The Globe All-Area football team as a receiver and who also played very well at defensive back, clearly has been one of southwest Minnesota’s top offensive basketball players since his return to health. It’s not unusual for him to score in the mid-30s.

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One has to wonder, however, what else the 6-4 football and basketball star might be able to do if the Minnesota State High School League would have added another sport -- such as pickleball -- to its list of programs. Ahrendt says he loves to play pickleball. And when he’s not playing pickleball, he enjoys playing video games with his friends, traveling 30 miles west to Sioux Falls, and hanging out with his girlfriend.

Life is good, apparently, for Luverne’s prolific basketball scorer.

“Yeah,” he said recently. “Love being a kid.”

The Globe interviewed and videotaped Gannon Ahrendt -- this week’s Drill feature -- and has the result ready. You can see the video online at www.dglobe.com . Here is a sample of the interview:

QUESTION: What’s the most important advice you’ve received so far in your athletic career?

ANSWER: “The most valuable advice I’ve ever received for my sports career was probably … I started playing varsity basketball in eighth grade. And, you know, I was a little scared of the older guys. Our coach just told me, like, ‘Don’t be scared. Just go.’ People might not like me playing when I’m an eighth-grader, but just go. You’re gonna be OK.”

QUESTION: Can you take us back a little bit to when you scored your 1,000th point?

ANSWER: “I scored my thousandth point against Hills-Beaver Creek. It’s pretty cool because there’s only one other person in the history of Luverne basketball that’s scored a thousand. And my coach actually did call a time-out to stop the game and acknowledge my thousandth point. I felt pretty cool, especially to get it as a junior.”

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QUESTION: What makes you the player you are?

ANSWER: “I would say my athleticism definitely helps, being able to jump really high over people. I can shoot, too. I can score from inside, mid-range, 3-pointers. It really helps me. My role is mainly to score -- score a lot of points and help us win.”

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.
What To Read Next
Monday high school sports roundup:
Luverne is seeded No. 1 in the upcoming Section 3A girls high school hockey tournament and Worthington is seeded sixth.
Participating teams are Becker, Benson, Big Lake, Byron, Detroit Lakes, Mankato West, Melrose, New London-Spicer, St. Peter, and Worthington.
The Worthington Trojans boys basketball team played exceptional defense against Canistota, surrendering a mere 11 points in the first half.