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Guard play expected to buoy Wolverines this season

Wadena-Deer Creek's Evan VanErp (24) is the only returning starter on this year's boys' basketball team. The senior guard led the team in scoring, assists and steals last season and was second in rebounding. Photo by Brian Hansel

Graduation took a lot from the Wadena-Deer Creek Wolverines, but Tom VanErp and his cagers still have a lofty goal in mind.

"Our goal is to win the Mid-State Conference title," VanErp said as he prepared his team for their 2012-2013 campaign.

The Wolverines were 2-8 in the Mid-State last year and 9-17 overall. Detroit Lakes won the Mid-State with a 10-0 record, but Robb Flint lost eight of his 14 players to graduation. Mid-State runner-up Pequot Lakes lost seven seniors.

It will all begin out front for the Wolverines this year.

"Our guards will match up with every conference team we play," VanErp said.

VanErp expects to anchor his team with Evan VanErp, the only starter back from last year's team. The 6-0 senior led the Wolverines in scoring assists and steals last year and was second in rebounding.

"Evan did a lot of things for us," VanErp said.

The plan this year is to play VanErp off guard and give the point to 5-9 freshman Andrew VanErp.

"He just does everything. He shoots, he's a good passer and defensively he's solid," VanErp said.

Also set for duty in the backcourt are 5-7 junior Jacob Goeden and 5-11 sophomore Blake Connell. Goeden works hard on defense and played summer league basketball. Connell, who moved in from Sebeka, is a good ball handler and shooter, and brings good quickness to the court.

"I think he'll help us right away," VanErp said.

Other seniors on the team are 5-10 guard Joey Price, 6-0 forward Matt Laughlin and 6-4 center Keith Paulson. Price was a backup this year, and VanErp said in the offense the Wolverines will be running this year he will probably be used as a forward. Laughlin is still dealing with an ankle injury, but VanErp rates him as an effective scorer when he is healthy. Paulson gives the Wolverines a solid rebounder inside.

Rounding out the junior ranks are 5-9 guard Jared Reinitz, 6-2 forward Isaac Laughlin, 6-3 center Dylan Dumpprope, 6-0 forward Ricky Price and 6-4 center Barney Busa. Reinitz is a shooter. Laughlin will be moved into a post spot, Dumpprope can play inside, but he has another weapon as well.

"The nice thing about him is that he has that shooting range," VanErp said. "He can step out and shoot that three too."

Freshman who may see duty off the bench include 5-9 guard Tanner Horn and 6-1 guard Alex Redfield.

VanErp sees his Wolverines vying for the Mid-State along with Pequot Lakes, Crosby-Ironton and Detroit Lakes. Section 8AA favorites this year include Hawley, Pelican Rapids and Perham.