The No. 7 seed Wadena-Deer Creek will take on the No. 2 seed Perham Yellowjackets in the Section 8AA play-in game Thursday, March 18, in Perham. This will be the first meeting between the two teams this season.
The Wolverines (10-8) expect the Yellowjackets (13-5) to challenge them but hope to give them a run for their money, according to WDC head coach Kevin Tumberg. The team has been reviewing tape on Perham to study what other teams have done to find success against the Yellowjackets.
"We need to come out with a strong start," Tumberg said. "This season, we have had quite a few games where we have come out slow and its taken us the first 5-8 minutes to get acclimated. That can't happen against the No. 2 seed in the section." If the Wolverines get out to a fast start, Tumberg said, "I think we have the players and athletes to compete with Perham and give them a run for their money."
The Wolverines had an inconsistent regular season. "We have had some really good wins this season where we have played great team basketball, but we've also had some games where we didn't play well as a team and seemed to look more for our own individual success," Tumberg said.
One of the inconsistencies that has hurt the team this season is turnovers. There have been some games where the team has committed fewer than 10 turnovers, but then a game or two later the team will commit more than 20 turnovers. "Those kind of inconsistencies are going to lead to inconsistent results," Tumberg said.
Tumberg also talked about the inexperience of this season's team. Just four players (three seniors and a junior) returned this season with solid varsity experience. The other players have either not logged much time on varsity or have been moved from JV to the varsity roster. "Jumping from the JV squad to the varsity squad is a big jump," Tumberg said. "The speed of play is something that is often hard to get accustomed to." But, he added that this year's experience will only help the team next season.
Even though the Wolverines, like many teams, had a shortened season because of COVID restrictions, Tumberg is still thankful because the team did get to play.
"I'm thankful that this group of men got to compete this year and play the game they love," Tumberg said. "I'm thankful that our seven seniors got to experience their final season together."
The winner of the WDC/Perham game will advance to the quarterfinals, which will be held Saturday, March 20, and will face the winner of the Thief River Falls/East Grand Forks game.