Everyone in the Henning High School gymnasium knew who was going to get the ball, it was a matter of how they were planning on getting Noah Ross the ball. The Wolverines just watched the Hornets go on a 6-0 run to take a 59-58 lead in a matter of seconds. The Wolverines drew up a sideline inbounds play that led to a lob for Ross, who finished at the hoop, drew the foul and sank the Hornets hopes of a home win, helping Wadena-DC pick up a 61-59 victory.
“It was a really good play,” Ross said. “It was drawn up by our coaches. Bereket Loer was going off on a screen set by Hunter Hawkins and we were going to divert their attention to shooting a 3-pointer there. I came behind and got a screen from Hawkins, enough for the lob to be put up and I finished.”
However, the Wolverines still needed to get one final stop. The Wolverines spent much of the game in a 3-2 zone, which the Hornets had success shooting over at times, hitting 11 3-pointers, eight in the first half, but the Wolverines switched for the final possession. The Hornets were unable to get a shot off, throwing the ball away just seconds before the clock ran out.
“I have to thank another assistant, we switched from zone defense to man defense. We were in zone all night and right away their coach was hollering option two,” Wadena-DC head coach Kevin Tumberg said. “We knew the switch was good for us and the fellas locked down and got the big stop at the end.”
Noah Ross led all scorers with 18 points and eight rebounds. He hit five of seven from the free throw line, including the one that gave the Wolverines the 2-point edge.
“It was a grind. We knew coming in that they were a good team and they were going to be pesky,” Ross said. “We knew we had to grind out a win and it wasn’t going to be easy, but we pulled it off.”
The Wolverines received a big boost with the return of Bereket Loer to the line up. He was out with an ankle injury and his return helped spark the offense. He finished with 17 points, hitting five 3-pointers. Loer came down hard on his ankle in the second half, but returned to the line up after sitting out just a couple of minutes.
“The (doctors) told him it would hurt a little bit, but you won’t do anything worse to it,” Tumberg said. “I think he finally came down hard since hurting it and realized that it was no worse, that it’s just a little sore. He was able to come back and finish strong.”
Ryan Anderson’s play inside was key as well for the Wolverines. The forward finished with 14 points, while grabbing eight rebounds. Tumberg said they need that type of play from him going forward if they want to win the Park Region Conference and to make a run in the Section 8AA playoffs.
Sam Fisher led a balanced Henning attack with 10 points. Blake Wallevand added nine points, while Blaine Wallevand and Lee Bjorklund finished with eight points each. The Hornets hit eight 3-pointers in the first half, building a 38-34 lead. They finished connecting on 11 of their 28 attempts from beyond the arc.
The Wolverines improve to 8-1 in the Park Region Conference. They are 10-7 overall on the season. They have another key conference game looming with Pillager on Monday, Feb. 5. Pillager defeated Wadena-DC earlier in the season and is a game back in the loss column of the Wolverines.
WDC 34 27--61
HEN 38 21--59
WDC: Bereket Loer 17, Jonathan Pantages 6, Matt Goeden 4, Hunter Hawkins 2, Noah Ross 18, Ryan Anderson 14
3-pointers: Loer 5, Pantages, Ross, Anderson. Free Throws: 9-14. Team Fouls: 14. Fouled Out: Anderson
HEN: Lee Bjorklund 8, Blake Wallevand 9, Isaac Fisher 7, Sam Fisher 10, Blaine Wallevand 8, Bryce Rach 8, Dylan Trana 6, Brandon Trana 3
3-pointers: Bjorklund 2, Blake Wallevand, Fisher 2, Blaine Wallevand 2, Rach 2, D. Trana 2, B. Trana. Free Throws: 6-9. Team Fouls: 16. Fouled Out: None.