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State boys basketball: W-WG to face tough North Woods team

The Westbrook-Walnut Grove Chargers won their last three games by a total of 16 points. The closest game the North Woods Grizzlies had in their last four was a 15-point victory, and the other three games were won by margins of 33 or more.

The Westbrook-Walnut Grove Chargers won their last three games by a total of 16 points. The closest game the North Woods Grizzlies had in their last four was a 15-point victory, and the other three games were won by margins of 33 or more.

What does that mean? Hard to say. Maybe it means that the Grizzlies are simply that much better than everybody else. On the other hand … maybe close games are an advantage for the Chargers because it shows they’re tough and focused when the chips are on the line.

Both teams will play in the Minnesota state Class A high school boys basketball tournament on Thursday. In fact, they’ll play each other at Williams Arena on the campus of the University of Minnesota beginning at 5 p.m.

Section 7 champion North Woods is seeded third in the tournament and will bring a 27-2 record into the fray. Section 3 champion W-WG is unseeded at 23-7.

North Woods finished second in the tournament last year.

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The Grizzlies beat Lakeview Christian Academy 78-39 for their 2019 section title behind 31 points from senior point guard Cade Goggleye, who averages 18 points per game and also leads the team in assists.

But head coach Will Kleppe describes his team as a balanced outfit with “a lot of role players.”

“We’re a defense-minded team. We try to win the battle on the boards,” he said.

Trevor Morrison (6-4 junior) and Chase Kleppe (6-3 senior) do the bulk of the inside work for the Grizzlies, who are back to state after graduating two starters from the 2017-18 squad.

Kleppe has watched film of the Chargers, and he’s impressed.

“They’ve got some outstanding players. Big inside presence at 6-7,” he said.

W-WG’s big man, Parker Freeburg, is just one of many key cogs for the Chargers. Quick and aggressive senior point guard Andrew Quade is joined by junior Nathan Ross and sophomore Ethan Mischke as dangerous long-range bombers who can also create their own opportunities inside.

“We’re certainly going to have to defend the 3-point shot. And we’re going to have to limit the dribble penetration into our defense,” Kleppe said.

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Westbrook-Walnut Grove head coach Derrick Jenniges is as wary of North Woods as North Woods is of W-WG.

“They like to play a lot of different defenses. They’re capable of scoring in a hurry. They have a good seven-man rotation with some good scorers and some physical players on the inside,” Jenniges said.

Intimidating venue Williams Arena, home of the Gophers, can be intimidating for a lot of high school boys basketball players. But Jenniges believes his Chargers will be mentally ready, and to make sure of that he’s going to prepare them early. The players will show up today to watch as Class AA and AAA teams go at it, and they’ll arrive early on Thursday to see some of the other Class A quarterfinal games.

In other quarterfinal Class A contests Thursday, Springfield (27-2) takes on Spring Grove (23-4) at 11 a.m., Henning (28-1) plays Christ’s Household of Faith (23-5) at 1 p.m., and Ada-Borup (28-1) plays Cromwell-Wright (25-3) at 3 p.m.

Springfield is led by Mr. Basketball finalist Isaac Fink and is the No. 1 seed. The Tigers average 88.3 points per game.

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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