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November 26, 2013

BOYS BASKETBALL: Northwestern preview

Squad has to replace a pair of All-Area players.

Northwestern boys basketball coach Jim Gish counted on 6-foot-3 Trenton Brazel and 6-7 Chase Johnson to lead the way last season. The KT All-Area players combined to score 31.7 points per game, a healthy chunk of the Purple Tigers’ 53.7 average. They also recorded more than half of the team’s rebounds.

Now with Brazel and Johnson graduated from an 11-10 squad, the Tigers will need new players to step up.

“I’m pleased with where we are overall,” Gish said. “Obviously, we graduated a lot of our offense. But we have a lot of depth right now. We have kids who are getting after it. It’s been very competitive in practice.”

Northwestern will go with a smaller look. Gish has a surplus of guards and wings and not much size inside.

“We have a lot of guys who provide multiple skills,” he said. “It’s going to be important we hone in on those skills and put the kids in the best position to have success. We feel like our best biggest asset will be our depth.”

The Tigers’ top returning players include 6-3 senior wing Graham Ortmann (6.6 ppg last season), 5-10 junior guard Blaine Brutus (4.3 ppg), 6-1 junior point guard Jacob Wagner (3.4 ppg, 2.3 assists per game) and 6-3 senior forward Keagan Downey (2 ppg, 2 rebounds per game). Ortmann and Brutus are solid 3-point shooters.

Logan Galbraith, a 6-0 senior, bolsters the Tigers’ backcourt. He averaged 3.2 ppg and 1.3 apg in 11 games before an ACL injury ended his season.

“Graham Ortmann will be a key for us on both ends of the floor. He and Logan Galbraith are the best two leaders on the team at this time,” Gish said, noting Galbraith has worked hard to return from his injury.

The Tigers’ senior class also includes 5-10 guard Robert Olsen, 5-9 guard Evan Matlock and 6-1 forward David Schaaf. Olsen carved out a role last season as a defensive sparkplug.

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