Boys basketball: Wolverines boys basketball earns 19th win, ties record for wins in a season
The Wolverines bested the Parkers Prairie Panthers 69-61 in the team's final regular season game. A win in the section tournament next week would set a new season win record.
WADENA — The six seniors on the Wadena-Deer Creek boys basketball team were given a proper sendoff Friday night, as the Wolverines outlasted the Parkers Prairie Panthers 69-61 in a competitive regular season finale.
Wadena-Deer Creek moved to 19-7 this season, which ties the team’s record for wins that was set in the 1998-99 season. Should WDC win its opening round game in the section tournament next week, that would set a new season win record.
The Wolverines’ starting five took on a bit of a different look Friday as head coach Kevin Tumberg sent out seniors Nick Briggs, Emonie Hammond, Phillip Ross, Eshetu Loer and Dylan Wirth for the opening tipoff in a nod to their years of commitment to the basketball program.
The team’s sixth senior, Isaac Hamann, who normally starts, willingly gave up his opportunity on the double celebration of “Senior Night” and “Parent Night” to give his fellow seniors the spotlight, coach Tumberg said.
“Those six dudes have been with us since we took over the program eight years ago,” Tumberg said. “Since fourth grade they’ve been with us, and maybe it didn’t go as they might have wanted. Maybe they didn’t get the playing time they wanted. But they all are very selfless people, huge team guys. (On Senior Night) you realize how much you’ll miss them.”
Tumberg left the seniors in for the first three minutes of the game before sending in the regular starting cast of Hamann, Teshe Loer, Kobe Synder, Peyton Church and Nathaniel Peterson at the 15 minute mark.
Facing a five-point deficit, over the next eight minutes, the Wolverines clawed their way back a bucket at a time until with seven minutes left in the first half, Church hit a layup to tie up the game for the first time at 19-19.
After another defensive stop, moments later, junior Teshe Loer delivered one of his patented, acrobatic layups and drew the foul. He sank the accompanying free throw for the three-point play, giving the Wolverines a 22-19 lead.
Both teams traded buckets for the next several minutes, in a tight race to see who would take a lead into halftime. Late in the half, Panthers junior Cohen Noska took a steal the length of the court for a layup to bring Parkers Prairie to within one point at 28-27. But Parkers Prairie never got any closer.
Over the last three minutes of the first half, the Wolverines made some key stops and turned them into buckets on their offensive end. And what had been a very competitive game slipped away. Wadena-Deer Creek ended up with a 37-27 lead at half that they would never relinquish.
“We emphasize closing halves strong, and starting the next one strong too,” coach Tumberg said. “Those two chunks of minutes, strung together, can give you a little distance. At the end of the first half, we knocked down a lot of big stops, and we scored at the other end.”
The Wolverines are accustomed to their big two – Loer and Church – getting their points, and Friday was no different. Loer finished with 16 and Church had 18. But Synder, a sophomore, poured in 17 points of his own, with a game-high eight steals, to give Wadena-Deer Creek an added offensive spark.
“We’ve talked about needing a third and fourth scorer,” Tumberg said. “Other teams scout us, and the deeper we play in the tournament, they’ll know to isolate (Loer and Church). We need another scorer, and Kobe Snyder gave us that tonight.”
Now the Wolverines wait for Sunday when the Minnesota State High School League will release the section tournament seedings. Tumberg said he anticipates WDC will receive a seven or eight seed, which means they’d have at least one more home game. The tournament’s top eight seeds will host their first round matchup.
Between now and the start of the tournament on Thursday, March 9, Tumberg said they’ll watch a lot of film on their next opponent, which may be either Fergus Falls or Red Lake.
“On Sunday morning we’ll dive into film on them,” he said. “And we’ll prepare all week and be ready to go for them.”
WADENA-DEER CREEK – 37 32 - 69
PARKERS PRAIRIE – 27 34 - 61
WADENA-DEER CREEK (19-7, 6-4 section) – Teshe Loer 16 points, 2 rebounds, 2 steals; Lyrik Haug: 2 points, 1 rebound, 1 steal; Emonie Hammond: 1 rebound; Kobe Synder: 17 points, 1 rebound, 8 steals; Isaac Hamann: 7 points, 1 rebound, 2 steals; Josiah Kallevig: 2 points, 5 rebounds, 2 steals; Peyton Church: 18 points, 1 rebound; Phillip Ross: 3 points, 2 rebounds; Nathaniel Peterson: 4 points, 2 rebounds; Dylan Wirth: 1 rebound.
PARKERS PRAIRIE (10-13, 7-11 section) – Dylan Debilzen: 5 points; Ryder Ashbaugh: 5 points, 2 rebounds; Hunter Holte: 7 points, 1 rebound; Mason Arens: 9 points, 4 blocks, 12 rebounds, 1 steal; Ross Kortenbusch: 3 points, 1 block, 2 rebounds; Cohen Noska: 10 points, 4 rebounds, 1 steal; Benjamin Harrington: 21 points, 2 blocks, 7 rebounds; Caden DeBoer: 1 point; 1 rebound.