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Wohlers lead Orono basketball rebuild

By AARON PAITICH, Special to the Star Tribune, 12/13/11, 5:42PM CST


Brady Wohler, son of the Orono coach, is leading a rare rebuilding year for the Spartans.

Orono's Brady Wohler (21) looks for an open teammate during the Spartans' Dec. 10 loss to Braham in the Breakdown Tip Off Classic at Minnetonka High School.

Brady Wohler has a problem: He's obsessed with winning.

Orono piled up an impressive 52-10 record the past two seasons, punctuated with a 2010-2011 Class 3A championship. But the school graduated six seniors from that squad, all of whom played big minutes.

So when the new-look Spartans began this season 0-3, there was definitely some withdrawal going through the senior guard's body.

"It's frustrating. Coming off a season like last year, you kind of get addicted to winning and that good feeling, so it hurts to lose three in a row," said Brady, a four-year varsity player and the team's only returning starter. "But I believe in my teammates and I believe in my coach and I believe in myself. So if we get the right combination together, we'll be all right."

Orono has had it pretty good in the past few years. But it's not about to surrender and just go through the motions. The fresh faces don't have much experience at the varsity level, so it will take time to adapt and accept roles. Everyone's learning on the fly.

"Everybody else is fairly new and I've got to learn to be patient with them, too," coach Barry Wohler said.

Senior guard Anthonie Tholey is playing well and contributing offensively, averaging nearly 10 points per game. Sophomore guards Spencer Carlson and Chandler Perry are showing aggressiveness and strong play. Seniors Conor Borgert and Mitch Horner are seeing more minutes than usual.

Barry has nine players in the rotation right now, trying to find the right mix. Rebounding and on-ball defense are some of the main focuses.

"They have to be ballplayers for us," Barry said.

The one proven ballplayer is the coach's son, Brady, who is averaging 24 points and nearly 10 rebounds per game. The 6-4 guard is explosive to the basket and can play the point or wing. He can post up, shoot the three and is a defensive workhorse.

"I think he's just touching on how good he can be," Barry said.

Brady touched the rim twice in Saturday's loss to Braham at the Breakdown Tip-Off Classic. In an event which showcases many of the state's top teams and players, Brady put on a display of athleticism with two thunderous dunks to get the crowd going.

He's been able to dunk since the summer after his freshman year. After getting stronger and more comfortable with the timing, Brady has since added that to his game repertoire.

"As a freshman, when I was first playing, everybody seemed so big and so fast," Brady said. "Every year, I just gradually got stronger and the game seemed to go in a little more slow motion every year. It's nice to be older and stronger and be able to do things that I might not have been able to do the past couple of years."

The guard, who has received offers from Moorhead State and St. Cloud State, will play out his senior year before making any decisions on where he'll play college ball. For now, it's time to focus on helping turn around the team in his final high school season. As Orono's only returning starter, he says he feels a little more pressure to lead the team, but he believes the Spartans will look a lot better in March.

"When I see them walk into the gym, I don't feel that much weight on my shoulders," Brady said of his teammates. "I know I have confidence in them and what they can do. It's just a matter of time until we get everything worked out."

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