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Loer leads Wolverines to home win over Menahga

Wadena-Deer Creek's Bereket Loer drives to the basket during the second half of Wadena-DC's Park Region Conference victory over Menahga. Loer finished with a game-high of 21 points. Jason Groth/Pioneer Journal.

The Wadena-Deer Creek boys basketball team did just enough to earn a 63-55 victory over the upset-minded Menahga Braves on Feb. 9 at the Wadena-DC High School gymnasium.

The Wolverines gutted it out as the Braves came at them with a big run to start the second half, but the Wolverines stemmed the tide, eventually closing it out at the free throw line in the closing minutes of the game.

“We didn’t play the best game or anywhere close to what we are capable of, but one thing about this group, is they are very resilient,” Wadena-DC head coach Kevin Tumberg said. “Whenever we are not playing our best game, we find a way. At the end of the night, no matter how ugly or pretty it looked, a win is a win and we will take them.”

Thomas Quincer drives the baseline against Menahga.

Despite battling an ankle injury, Bereket Loer had a lot of jump in the first half, helping the Wolverines build up a 34-23 lead. He scored 16 of his 21 points in the first half. He had his shot going from deep in the first half, hitting a team-high of four 3-pointers. He landed awkwardly on his ankle in the second half, but was able to battled through it.

“Bereket played a great game. He was hitting a lot of shots early and had a really deep three early,” Tumberg said. “Noah Ross had a game that was not usual for him and Bereket was able to step up and be that team leader. We are fortunate that we have a lot of guys that can contribute and play a big role in the game.”

Ross was held in check in the first half, scoring just two points. His shot wasn’t dropping but he was able to get to the free throw line in the second half. He hit six straight in the second half, helping the Wolverines close out the Braves. Ross finished with 15 points, with 11 of them in the second half.

Menahga relied heavily on the 3-pointer for much of the game, hitting 11 of them. Gavin Hilukka led the Braves with 19 points, hitting five 3-pointers. Charlie Hodge ended with 11 points, hitting four 3-pointers.

The Braves came out of the locker room at the half on fire. They used a 12-0 run, taking a 35-34 lead on the Wolverines. Tumberg said his team talked about trying to avoid an early second half run in the locker room. He commented on how the Wolverines used a run to get back into the game against Pillager and they wanted to avoid Menahga going on a run against them.

Yet, a time-out settled things down for the Wolverines and they eventually regained the lead. Menahga closed it back down to one, but The Wolverines hit seven of eight in the final minute to stretch the lead back out to eight.

The Wolverines improved to 11-8 with the win and sit at 9-2 in the Park Region Conference. The win helps them keep pace with Pillager at the top of the standings.

The Wolverines return to the floor on Saturday, Feb. 10 with the Heart O’Lakes Showcase at the Fargo Civic Center. Wadena-Deer Creek tips off with Hawley at 11:15 a.m.

MEN 23 32--55

WDC 34 29--63

MEN: Charlie Hodge 14, Tristan Aho 11, Zach Floyd 4, Jonah Howard 6, Gavin Hillukka 19, Owen Anderson 1

3-pointers: Hodge 4, Aho 2, Hilluka 5. Free Throws: 14-23. Team Fouls: 14. Fouled Out: None

WDC: Bereket Loer 21, Jonathan Pantages 9, Matt Goeden 1, Cade Kapphahn 2, Hunter Hawkins 4, Thomas Quincer 5, Noah Ross 15, Ryan Anderson 6

3-pointers: Loer 4, Pantages, Ross. Free Throws: 9-13. Team Fouls: 19. Fouled Out: Anderson

Jason Groth

 Groth is a Minnesota Newspaper Association award-winning Sports Editor of the Perham Focus and the Wadena Pioneer Journal. Groth worked in Grand Rapids as the Sports Director at KOZY/KMFY radio for two years and prior to that he was the Sports Editor/Writer for the Grand Rapids Herald-Review for seven years. 

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