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Girls basketball: WDC's stout second half defense clinches third straight win

The Wadena-Deer Creek girls basketball team surrendered just 15 points in a 60-43 win over Verndale on Tuesday night.

1. Montana Carsten.JPG
Wadena-Deer Creek's Montana Carsten shoots a three-pointer in the Wolverines' 60-43 win over Verndale on Dec. 6, 2022.
Nick Leonardelli / Wadena Pioneer Journal
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WADENA – The Wadena-Deer Creek girls basketball team wanted to keep its hot start to the season alive in a matchup against Verndale on Tuesday.

The last time the Pirates (0-3) beat the Wolverines (3-0) was in 2018. Verndale looked to close in on their first win over WDC in four years, finishing the first half on an 8-0 run. However, some second-half adjustments helped to propel the Wolverines to a 60-43 victory.

1. Addy Gravelle.JPG
Wadena-Deer Creek's Addyson Gravelle shoots a three-pointer in the Wolverines' 60-43 win over Verndale on Dec. 6, 2022.
Nick Leonardelli / Wadena Pioneer Journal

"Verdale took it to us in the first half," WDC head coach Jordan Cresap said. "They outplayed us, and they outworked us. They are a tough, physical and disciplined team. They kind of punched us in the mouth there right away. I thought we responded pretty well in the second half, especially defensively."

Cresap felt that WDC's first-half defense was streaky and didn't see his team locked on their end of the floor.

"It's just an effort thing," he said. "We were getting beat on straight cuts. We were getting beat to offensive rebounds and rebounds in general. We are not responding to adversity very well. It was all the simple but hard things that you need to do to beat good teams like Verndale. We needed to rebound the ball better and play with more discipline. We had a bunch of lapses that I thought we cleaned up in the second half."

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The Wolverines allowed only 15 points in the final 18 minutes. Cresap's adjustments were a huge reason the Wolverines pulled away. He felt that double-teaming their ball-handler was a way to throw Verndale off guard.

"I thought it would keep them off their rhythm – maybe try to force a turnover and get them on their heels," Cresap said. "I thought Verndale handled it pretty well. When you do those sorts of things, I feel you become less predictable."

It was the Wolverines' offense that Verndale was having trouble slowing down. WDC finished with at least 60 or more points for the second time this season.

1. Jordan Cresap.JPG
Wadena-Deer Creek's head coach jordan Cresap coaches the Wolverines to a 60-43 win over Verndale on Dec. 6, 2022.
Nick Leonardelli / Wadena Pioneer Journal

"We got a great player inside in Payton Gravelle," Cresap said. "We got some shooters on the outside with (Madison and Montana Carsten) and Addy Gravelle. Ally Pavek does a good job at getting into the paint and finding open teammates. When you can shoot and drive a little bit, that makes us tough to guard. We are quick to get up the floor and quick to get the offense going for us."

Cresap loved seeing Madison Carsten dominate the game on both ends of the court. This is her first season after tearing her ACL and meniscus in both knees during her sophomore and junior seasons. She finished the game as the team leader in points with 19.

"She disrupts everything defensively," Cresap said. "She is guarding their best player. She had a handful of deflections and steals. She is leading the charge on defense. That is incredibly valuable. Offensively, she is hitting some big shots, taking it to the rack and putting pressure on the defense. Maddy's performance was good to see. Even after her injuries, it was good to see her competing."

Addyson Gravelle was the second-highest scorer with 17 points, while Payton Gravelle was the third Wolverine in double digits with 10.

WDC is 3-0 to start the season but is still a work in progress defensively.

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1. Payton Gravelle.JPG
Wadena-Deer Creek's Payton Gravelle sets a pick in the Wolverines' 60-43 win over Verndale on Dec. 6, 2022.
Nick Leonardelli / Wadena Pioneer Journal

"I thought we had a lot of miscues defensively to work on," Cresap said. "Verdale is a solid offensive team who will make you pay, and that is really good for us to see. It's early in the season, so we are not going to overreact. We will make those corrections and build off the good things. In the second half, we came to play and did a lot of good things. It's back to the drawing board."

WDC 34 26- 60

VRN 28 15- 43

WADENA-DEER CREEK SCORING- Addyson Gravelle 17 points; Montana Carsten 9 points; Kennedy Ness 2 points; Madison Carsten 19 points; Payton Gravelle 10 points; Jenna Dykhoff 3 points

VERNDALE SCORING- Mallory Uselman 2 points; Katie Blaha 18 points; Olivia Stanley 6 points; Kaija Madsen 8 points; Reagan Ludovissie 9 points

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