MOORHEAD — Once Henning got going, it was game over for Mahnomen-Waubun as the Hornets ran away with a 78-35 victory in the semifinals of the Minnesota Class 1A, Section 6 boys basketball tournament on Monday at Concordia’s Memorial Auditorium.
The Hornets advance to play in the section championship on Thursday against the south subsection champs.
The Thunderbirds opened the game on a 9-0 run while the defending-state champion Hornets were ice cold from the field. But that didn’t last long. Henning turned things around in the middle of the first half and were off to the races. Mahnomen-Waubun’s Loden Clark ran up seven points in the first five minutes, but the Hornets contained him from there and he finished with 15.
“It wasn’t a great start,” Henning coach Randy Misegades said. “They were ready to go. You’ve just got to trust the process. (Clark) had 10 points before we even blinked, but we did a better job of keeping him in front of us.”
The Hornets turned turnover-after-turnover into transition basket after transition basket as they erased their deficit and flipped it into a lead that only grew as the game wore on. They turned a near double-digit deficit early into a lead that reached more than 40.
“That’s how we’re at our best, when we can get out in transition,” Misegades said. “We talk about creating offense with our defense. We’re not very big, but when we can get the tempo going, we’re pretty effective.”
Isaac Fisher finally put the Hornets on the board with a 3 5 minutes, 30 seconds into the game. Henning went on an 18-3 run from there. Brandon Tran gave the Hornets their first lead 16-15 with a 3-pointer from the right corner with 7:06 to go in the first half. M-W’s Will Starkey answered with a 3 of his own to push the Thunderbirds back in front 17-16, but Trana made another 3 to flip the advantage back to the Hornets and they never looked back.
“We started a little slow, but we were able to bounce back and get it done,” Fisher said. “We didn’t hit shots early, and they did. We had to settle down and hit shots.”
The Hornets rolled their late-first half success right over into the second half. They opened the half on a 28-4 run that started with a 12-0 run and finished with a 14-0 run. By the time the Thunderbirds made their third basket of the half, the Hornets were up by 30.
The Hornets forced turnovers on the first five M-W possessions and got transition baskets from Fisher, Blaine Wallevand, Blake Wallevand and Fisher again.
“We talk a lot coming out of the half that those first 3 or 4 minutes are huge,” Misegades said. “You’ve got to throw the first punch coming out of the first half. We felt like we didn’t play well in the first half, especially early, and I think our guys were a little ticked off.”
Blake Wallevand led the Hornets with 20 points, while Fisher scored 17, and Trana scored 11. Fisher reached the 1,000 point milestone for his career.
“It’s a big milestone for me, but we have bigger goals in mind,” Fisher said. “It was a good win, but we’re focused on the section championship game.”
H: Fraki 8, Blake Wallevand 20, Isaac Fisher 17, Lu. Bjorklund 5, Blaine Wallevand 5, Trana 11, Le. Bjorklund 6, Arndt 2, Agrell 3.
M-W: Houdek 1, Clark 15, Pazdernik 4, Starkey 3, Keezer 4, Littlewolf 5, Steffl 3.
Halftime: Henning 30, M-W 21