Taking it to the hoop

Fergus Falls senior Able Aho drives into the lane during a game against Willmar last season. After having their season cut short due to the pandemic, the Otters are excited to get back on court and return to the Section 8AA championship game.

Last season, the Fergus Falls boys’ basketball team posted a 25-4 record and were a game away from a Class AA state playoff berth. Then the pandemic struck, shutting down athletics for the remainder of the season. With last season in the rearview mirror and the focus on the 2020-21 season, the Otters look to return to the section title game with the potential to play in the state tournament.

This year’s Fergus Falls ballers will be led by a trio of seniors in Dominic Aguilar, Abel Aho and Chance Fazio. “They have the ability to play at a high level on both ends of the court,” Otters head coach Matt Johnson said. They will be joined by junior Luke Newman and sophomore Elliot Pribbenow. Newman is versatile on defense and is a slasher on offense, while Pribbenow’s varsity experience last year should help him as he looks to have a more prominent role on the team.

The Otters graduated Jack Culbertson, Parker Jacobs, Brock Kotschevar, Cody Norgren, Ethan Olson and Jacob Spangler from last season’s squad. Coach Matt Johnson will be looking to several players to step up and fill roles on the varsity level. “Seniors Bryce Burrill, Austin Rinke and Jack Vogl all have opportunities to contribute. Juniors Kaden Conklin and Owen Hanson, and sophomore Josh Sternberg could have important roles at the varsity level.”

Coach Matt Johnson has a few goals for his team this season, including having an opportunity to play as many games as possible.

“Our goal this year is to stay healthy and to give ourselves the opportunity to play as many games as possible! We have a talented group of returning players, and we should be able to compete and have a chance to win each night. As always, we need to buy into the work it takes to be successful. Focusing on daily improvement and being great beyond the game of basketball has always been our focus and will continue to be that way. When we take care of that, the rest seems to fall into place,” Matt Johnson said.

The Otters head coach has identified Perham and Pelican Rapids as the two top teams in the section, while Alexandria should be the favorite in the Central Lakes Conference. “As always, the CLC has tremendous depth and there is no easy night playing that schedule,” Matt Johnson added.

Matt Johnson will be assisted by Dan Sternberg, Keith Pearson, Ryan Johnson and Josh Grove this season.

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