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Boys basketball: Ohren fills the stat sheet for Ashby

Ashby senior Blake Ohren shoots over the defense of Brandon-Evansville’s Taylor Bitzan (left) and James Huisman during their Little Eight Conference game on Monday night. Ohren is going to play football this fall at Minnesota State Community and Technical College in Fergus Falls and is undecided on whether or not he will join the basketball team there. Ohren is averaging almost 17 points and nine rebounds per game.

Ashby senior Blake Ohren admitted that the games against Brandon-Evansville mean a little bit more to him than some others in the Little Eight Conference.

With Ashby and Evansville separated by less than 10 miles, it makes it easy for players on each team to get to know each other. That means there are some bragging rights on the line when they match up twice a year during the regular season.

“To me, personally [it means more] because I know pretty much everybody from Brandon-Evansville, and they know me,” Ohren said after leading Ashby to a 58-44 win over the Chargers in Brandon on Monday night. “I’ve played basketball with them since 7th grade.”

Ohren helped to make sure that it was Ashby that came away with all the bragging rights this winter as the Arrows completed the season sweep on Monday. The senior guard got off to a fast start with 13 points in the first half.

He finished with a game-high 23 and got them in a variety of ways. At 6’3” Ohren is a matchup problem for a lot of the guards he goes up against.

“We have a problem matching up with him, that’s for sure,” Brandon-Evansville head coach John Holsten said. “I think most teams do.”

Ohren showed off some of his versatility on Monday. He got going with a couple easy buckets in transition and a few mid-range jump shots off the dribble. He can also step out and hit the three, which he did three times against the Chargers.

“I don’t think there’s just one way to defend him,” Ashby head coach Jeremy Knick said. “You’ve got to respect his shot. You’ve got to respect his drive, and he is a really good pull-up shooter. That’s tough to guard, especially when you can elevate like he can.”

Ohren showed off that jumping ability in the second half when he got behind the defense and threw down a one-handed dunk. He can also stuff a stat sheet like he did against the Chargers, adding six rebounds, five steals, three blocks and three assists to his 23 points.

Ohren started playing varsity as a freshman and has learned he can make an impact by being more than a scorer. He is averaging 17.3 points, 8.7 rebounds, 2.9 blocks and 3.2 assists per game this winter.

“Just knowing when to take a shot and knowing when to pass it or hold it,” Ohren said of where he feels his game has grown. “Freshman year I would take a couple dumb shots. Now I feel like I’m smart enough to know what to do in key situations.”

Ohren was part of a talented group over the last two years that combined to go 40-11. The Arrows lost some key players from that core, including 7’0” center Riley Mickelson from a team that went 21-4 two years ago.

Mickelson is Ohren’s cousin and was Ashby’s all-time leading scorer with 1,253 points until Ohren passed him on that list during a game against Parkers Prairie on February 3.

“It’s good to keep it in the family,” Ohren said. “Right when he got it, I told him I would beat it, but that was the end of it. He saw it coming.”

Knick has been impressed with Ohren’s growth as a leader on this team since he joined varsity. The Arrows have dealt with some ups and downs this year with some guys taking on expanded roles on the varsity level for the first time.

Ashby was 13-11 overall and 7-5 in the LEC after the win over Brandon-Evansville. The Arrows have shown bouts of inconsistency this year, stringing together losing streaks of four games and three games, while also putting together winning streaks of six games and three games.

“He’s just a leader,” Knick said of Ohren. “He’s obviously had to take even a larger role this year having graduated some talented seniors last year. I think he’s done a nice job bringing in some younger guys and helping them along too, letting them know where to be, what to do. He’s been very vocal this year.”

The Arrows have also gotten a lot of big nights from fellow senior guard Morgan Wing this season. Wing is averaging 15 points and 3.2 steals per game this season. He was right at those numbers on Monday with 16 points and three steals.

Skyler Quinn led Brandon-Evansville with 16 points, seven assists and five rebounds. Junior Brandon Christianson added 14 points with 10 of those coming in the first half.

“He made some nice cuts to get to open areas and the kids found him with open passes,” Holsten said of Christianson.

It wasn’t enough in the end for the Chargers. Brandon-Evansville was within seven points late in the first half, but a foul on a three-point attempt by Wing as the buzzer sounded shifted the momentum to Ashby. Wing made all three free throws to give the Arrows a 10-point lead at the break.

They stretched that out to more than 20 about midway through the second half. With that, came some bragging rights for Ashby players after going 2-0 against their rivals from just down the road this winter.



ASHBY 30 28 – 58

TOTALS – B-E – FG – 20-46; FT – 1-4; Rebounds – 24; Assists – 16; Turnovers – 13; Ashby – FG – 21-46; FT – 10-13

B-E – Taylor Bitzan – 3 rebounds, 3 assists; McKenon Plaster – 2 points, 2 rebounds; Sam Anderson – 1 rebound, 1 assist; Christianson – 14 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist; Troy Fuller – 4 points, 1 steal; James Huisman – 2 points, 2 rebounds, 3 assists; Quinn – 16 points, 5 rebounds, 1 steal, 7 assists; Will Schroeder – 3 points, 4 rebounds, 1 steal; Kevin Campbell – 3 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist; James Strese – 1 rebound

ASHBY – Ohren – 23 points, 6 rebounds, 5 steals, 3 blocks, 3 assists; Wing – 16 points, 3 steals; Anderson – 9 points, 2 steals, 2 assists; Olson – 6 points, 5 assists

Eric Morken

Eric Morken is the sports and outdoor editor at the Echo Press and Osakis Review newspapers in Douglas County, MN. Follow him on Twitter at echo_sports.

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