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WDC falls to Verndale, Sebeka

Wadena-Deer Creek's Ryan Anderson drives into the lane against Verndale's Luke Weniger. Jason Groth/Pioneer Journal

The Verndale Pirates made a concerted effort to attack inside against the Wadena-Deer Creek Wolverines and it paid off as the Pirates ran away with a 71-57 Park Region Conference boys basketball game on Feb. 20 in Verndale.

Luke Weniger, Carter Schmitz and Jackson Weniger locked down the interior, while it was Owen Korfe hitting from the outside. Luke Weniger finished with a game-high of 23 points, while Korfe finished with 16 points. Korfe connected on four 3-pointers in the game, while Weniger scored 20 of his 23 from inside the paint and the free throw line.

Verndale's Luke Weniger drives the lane.

The loss put a huge dent in the Wolverines hopes for a Park Region Conference title. They entered the evening in a three-way tie with Henning and Pillager. However, they left Verndale with a crushing defeat to the Pirates, a team the Wolverines handled successfully at home.

One of the keys for the Pirates was slowing down Wadena-DC’s all-time leading scorer, Noah Ross. Ross finished with 18 points, but was held in check for most of the game. The Pirates frustrated the senior and made it tough for him to get the ball and to get an open look at the hoop.

Noah Ross drives the lane against Verndale.

The Wolverines found themselves chasing the Pirates from the early going. Verndale jumped out to an 11-3 lead in the early minutes, but Wadena-DC battled back, cutting it down to three points.  The Wolverines tried to erase a five-point lead heading into the half, but trailed by a point, 28-27.

Jonathan Pantages sank a 3-pointer, eventually tying the game at 35 in the second half, but Korfe responded with one of his own, giving the Pirates their final lead of the night. The Pirates started to attack inside and eventually stretched the lead out to 16 points, before closing with a 71-57 victory.

The loss dropped the Wolverines to 9-4 in conference and a game behind both Pillager and Henning for the top spot in the conference. Henning and Pillager will play for the conference title on Feb. 23. The Wolverines have one conference game remaining against New York Mills on Feb. 23.

WDC's Cooper Folkestad backs down the defender and gets a bucket.

WDC 27 30--57

VER 28 43--71

WDC: Bereket Loer 11, Jonathan Pantages 3, Matt Goeden 3, Cade Kapphahn 3, Hunter Hawkins 4, Noah Rossh 18, Ryan Anderson 8, Cooper Folkestad 4

3-pointers: Loer 3, Pantages, Kapphahn, Ross 3. Free Throws: 7-11. Fouls: 16. Fouled Out: Loer

VER: Owen Korfe 16, Luke Weniger 23, Matt Steege 9, Casey Holman 5, Jackson Weniger 8, Carter Schmitz 10

3-pointers: Korfe 4, Weniger, Steege, Holman. Free Throws: 12-19. Fouls: 11. Fouled Out: None

Sebeka 57, Wadena-DC 54

A last second 3-point attempt from Noah Ross was no good and Sebeka escaped with a 57-54 victory over Wadena-Deer Creek on Feb. 16 in Sebeka.

The loss for Wadena-Deer Creek jumbled the top of the standings in the Park Region Conference. Henning, Wadena-Deer Creek and Pillager all hold 9-3 records heading into the final week’s of the season.

However, the final shot of the game wasn’t without some controversy. It appeared that Ross was hit on the elbow, altering the game-tying shot attempt. However, the officials ruled there wasn’t a foul and Sebeka grabbed the crucial Park Region Conference game.

The game featured a pair of unique history making moments. Ross became the Wadena-Deer Creek All-Time leading scorer, while Sebeka’s James Clark became the Trojans All-Time leading scorer in school history. Both players accomplished the feat in the first half.

Ross finished the game with 13 points for the Wolverines. Clark ended with 16 points for the Trojans, but neither player was their leading scorer.

Wadena-DC’s Bereket Loer had a strong night from beyond the arc. He finished with four 3-pointers on his way to an 18 point night. Jonathan Pantages tacked on 10 points for Wadena-DC.

Jack Lillquist battled foul trouble throughout the game. He played much of the second half with four fouls, but finished with 19 points.

The Wolverines led by as many as 12 points in the first half, but Sebeka used a late run, outscoring the Wolverines 14-4 in the final minutes of the half. William Hannu hit two of his four 3-pointers in the closing seconds of the half.

However, it was Sebeka who had success late in hanging around with Wadena-Deer Creek. Yet, it was missed opportunities at the free throw line that kept the Trojans from sealing the game. Lillquist had a chance to make it a two possession game but he hit just one of two free throws. A basket by Hunter Hawkins cut it to one, before Lillquist hit two in a row, making it a 3-point game with 4.2 seconds to go. Ross got a look from the 3-point line, but it fell short.

WDC 30 24--54

SEB 20 27--57

WDC: Bereket Loer 18, Jonathan Pantages 10, Cade Kapphahn 2, Hunter Hawkins 4, Thomas Quincer 3, Noah Ross 13, Ryan Anderson 2

3-pointers: Loer 4, Ross. Free Throws: 7-10. Team Fouls: 18. Fouled Out: None

SEB: James Clark 16, Jack Lillquist 19, Mason Dailey 4, William Hannu 16, David Avelsgard 2

3-pointers: Hannu 4. Free Throws:13-20. Team Fouls: 9. Fouled Out: None

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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