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Rebels are ready to play basketball

By Chuck Hunt - Editor | Jan 17, 2021

These are the players for the 2021 USC boys basketball team. Front Row L-R: Andy Krohnberg, Colten Quade, Nick Bushlack, Ethan Dallman, Jackson Spizzirri, Blake Schroeder. Back Row L-R: Ethan Bushlack, AJ Bullerman, Mason Stevermer, Luke Pederson, Riley Staloch, Zale Bushlack, Levi Hinkley.

“This might be the most energy I have ever seen for a first week of practice,” United South Central boys basketball coach Taylor Ovrebo said. “All the guys are excited to just be in the gym and be back with their friends.”

High school winter sports were finally allowed to begin practice on Monday, Jan. 11, across the state.

Ovrebo, who is in his fifth year as head coach of the Rebels, said the one downside to the late start to the season is conditioning.

“The guys had a long break from the end of the fall sports season to starting basketball now,” he says. “So we are working hard on conditioning.”

And, of course, that is a little more difficult due to the rule of wearing masks all through practice.

“The kids are getting used to it by now,” the coach says. “There is not a lot of complaining about it. And, for a first week, it is actually going pretty well.”

The Rebels will have 12 varsity players on their roster, with plenty of others out for the B and C teams.

“We have five seniors on the varsity, with a couple of sophomores and the rest juniors,” coach Ovrebo says. “We are a fairly young team, but we do have three returning starters from last year.”

Riley Staloch has been a big player for the Rebels in the past, and is their returning all-conference player from last year.

Colton Quade is a returning guard and Nick Bushlack is a sophomore point guard, who coach Ovrebo says the team is expecting big things from.

Ethan Dallman is also a returning starter.

“Ethan is a really good defensive player,” the Rebel mentor says. “And he is a better all-around player this year.”

Mason Stevermer is another player returning from last year expected to make an impact on the team.

“We have 12 guys on varsity, and I look for all of them to compete for playing time,” Ovrebo says. “In fact, this could be our most competitive first week of practice in the last six or seven years.”

The Rebels, who were 11-14 last year, face some tough competition again this season, inside their own conference.

They will face Hayfield, which took second in state, twice this season. Also on the schedule is Class A fourth place finisher Nicollet. The coach figures Maple River will be the third toughest team they will face this season.

The season kicked off last week with a home game against Medford on Friday. One which had been set for Thursday against Alden-Conger was postponed due to COVID protocols.

Coach Ovrebo, who is a 2010 graduate of USC, has two assistant coaches. Stevie Voight is a 2014 alumnus of USC and is the B-squad coach, while Ryan Crabtree is in his first season as the C-squad coach.

All three coaches hustle to get to practices each day. None of the three are on the USC staff – Ovrebo and Voight are farmers and Crabtree is a banker in Kiester.

But the three coaches and all the players are just happy that they can be practicing and getting all ready for an exciting USC Rebel boys basketball season again, although just a bit shorter than usual.