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Verndale cagers trump Huskies in conference opener

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Verndale at Pillager

The Verndale Pirates secured a big road victory over the Pillager Huskies Dec. 10 in their conference opener by a final score of 81-67.

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Eric Blaha played a fantastic game, tallying 36 points and 10 rebounds. He was a staggering 13-18 from the field and 10-12 from the free throw line.

Credit goes to the guards, including Marcos Gomez who did a great job recognizing mismatches and feeding the post on multiple occasions. Gomez chipped in with his own eight points.

Mitchell Blaha did a great job running the offense from the point position and finished his nice night with 19 points and 12 assists. It was the second time this year he has eclipsed the 10 assist mark in a game.

The Pirates did trail by two at halftime, but foul trouble did not allow for much flow for many of the starters.

Seth Zins, Ethan Korfe, and Michael Kramer all gave great minutes in the first half. The second half was a much different game and the Pirates rattled off 51 points on their way to a victory.

Individual player stats for the Huskies were not available at press time.

VERNDALE (81)

E. Blaha 13, Kveton 5, M. Blaha 5, Gomez 3, Ehrmantraut 1, Fisher 1, Korfe 1.

Totals: 29/1 22-37 81

PILLAGER (67)

Totals: 26/4 11-19 67

Verndale vs. Menahga

The Pirates bested the Menahga Braves in their second conference game of the week.

Coach Jordan Hinkle stressed the importance of the game if the Pirates were going to compete for a conference championship.

"Along with us having those hopes, Menahga I am sure has the same--they entered Friday night sitting at 1-0 in the Park Region as well," Hinkle said.

It didn't take long for the Pirates to show they were ready for a conference sweep Friday as they jumped out to an incredible 49-19 halftime lead. Great defense, shooting, and ball control allowed the Pirates to take the big lead.

It was a tale of two halves however, as the Braves came out gunning for the win in the second half, forcing many turnovers and finally hitting some open shots.

Complacency may have attributed to the second half lull; the Braves cut the Pirates' lead 15 points at one time, but big buckets by many different players allowed the lead to sit comfortably around 15 to 20 and finally end at 21.

Eric Blaha once again led the way with 21 points and nine rebounds. Marcos Gomez found his outside stroke, hitting a couple of three-pointers and finishing with 16 points.

James Kveton and Mitchell Blaha rounded out the scoring, finishing with 11 and 10 respectively.

The win pushes the Pirates to 3-1 overall and 2-0 in the Park Region Conference.

The Pirates will host rival Bertha-Hewitt Bears on Friday in another Park Region Conference matchup.

Individual player stats for the Braves were not available at press time.

VERNDALE (73)

E. Blaha 21, Gomez 16, Kveton 11, M. Blaha 10, Korfe 5, Fisher 4, Ehrmantraut 2, Emerson 2, Johnson 2.

Totals: 27/5 14-21 73

MENAHGA (52)

Totals: 17/2 16-25 52

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Heather Bullock
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