Girls basketball: Wolverines focused on growth after losing big senior class

The Wadena-Deer Creek girls basketball team has tough games up and down its schedule. The Wolverines hope to be in the thick of it in the races for Section 8-2A and Park Region Conference titles.

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Wadena-Deer Creek's Montana Carsten defends at the three-point line at a practice on Nov. 15, 2022 at Wadena-Deer Creek High School.
Jared Rubado / Wadena Pioneer Journal
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WADENA – Losing seven seniors from a basketball team is a lot to replace, but Wadena-Deer Creek is up to the challenge.

The Wolverines are coming off a 15-11 season and the nine-seed in the Section 8-2A tournament. After a first-round 55-34 loss to Barnesville, they’re ready to turn the page.

“We have a group that’s very competitive,” head coach Jordan Cresap said. “They’re in all kinds of sports, from volleyball, tennis and cross country. They had success in the fall, and we hope that rolls over. They’re ready to compete.”

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Wadena-Deer Creek's Maddie Carsten shoots a three-pointer at a practice on Nov. 15, 2022 at Wadena-Deer Creek High School.
Jared Rubado / Wadena Pioneer Journal

One of those volleyball players is Maddie Carsten, who takes the floor for the first time since her sophomore season. She missed the last two years with ACL and meniscus tears in each knee. She’s not only going to be one of the nightly leaders on the box score, but she also brings a presence of leadership in the locker room.

“We need to get experience,” Cresap said. “We have Maddie coming back. She hasn’t played in a couple of years. But she’s back in the fold working with her teammates. Now we need to find some role players to contribute. We don’t have a whole lot of size this year. We’re going to have to take some steps defensively on the glass and find some players to step up.”


Senior Ally Pavek is happy to see everybody on the court to start the season.

“It’s really good to be back with the team again,” she said. “We practice all year round, so it’s fun to be back for the regular season and to have everybody healthy too.”

Losing seven seniors presents challenges but also opportunities. Cresap said the early part of the season is about figuring out what will work down the road when it matters most.

“We lost seven of them,” Cresap said of last year’s seniors. “We lost a lot of great leaders. They understood how to play and how to practice. That’ll take a lot to replace, but it’s exciting at the same time. We have some experienced players coming back who know what it takes to win and compete at a high level. It’s going to take a lot of gelling to put everything together.”

Pavek embraces being a role model like the ones she looked up to when she was new to the varsity team.

“We have to replace the leadership that left last year,” Pavek said. “It has to happen on and off the court. We have to stay true to how we do things. I’ve always looked up to those seniors, so to be that person for the girls younger than me is something I’m looking forward to.”

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Wadena-Deer Creek's Jenna Dykhoff shoots a three-pointer at a practice on Nov. 15, 2022 at Wadena-Deer Creek High School.
Jared Rubado / Wadena Pioneer Journal

The Wolverines are going to have new contributors this season, starting with a determined group of young players looking to break onto the scene.

“We have girls ready for the opportunity,” Cresap said. “Jenna Dykhoff is another Dykhoff. She’s an incredibly hard worker, and she rebounds well. She’s only a sophomore, so she’s still developing her skills. Kennedy Ness is a great athlete that’s grown a lot. We have kind of a mixture of eighth and ninth graders that will have opportunities to contribute.”


“We have a lot of quickness and good shooting guards,” Pavek said. “We lost a lot of posts, so we’ll have to build in that area, but we’re going to be quick. I think everyone has different strengths they bring to this team. Whether you’re a senior or an eighth grader, you have something to add to this team. Everyone is working hard for this team.”

The Section 8-2A field will likely have more parity this winter than it did a year ago. Fergus Falls and Menahga were forced to reload after impactful senior departures, leaving the opportunity for a new top dog to sit on the throne.

“It’s anybody’s section,” Cresap said. “You have those few at the top–Perham, Barnesville, Hawley, Pelican Rapids. Menahga lost everybody, but they’ll reload again. You’re talking about a section that consistently reloads.”

For now, the Wolverines are focused on what’s in front of them.

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Wadena-Deer Creek's Ally Pavek shoots a three-pointer at a practice on Nov. 15, 2022 at Wadena-Deer Creek High School.
Jared Rubado / Wadena Pioneer Journal

“We’re not looking at win totals,” Cresap said. “It sounds cliche, but we’re focused on getting better every single day with what we have here and what we have now. We’re taking a look at things and evaluating our strengths. We have an incredibly tough schedule. Our conference is tough. Section 8-2A is difficult. There will be losses along the way. It’s how we’re going to respond to them that will help us the season so that we can be playing our best at the end of the year.”


Nov. 29 at Pine River-Backus, 7:30 p.m.

Dec. 1 vs. Staples-Motley, 6 p.m.

Dec. 6 vs. Verndale 7:30 p.m.

Dec. 9 at New York Mills, 4 p.m.

Dec. 13 vs. Crosby-Ioronton, 7:30 p.m.

Dec. 15 vs. Bertha-Hewitt, 7:30 p.m.

Dec. 20 at Hawley, 7:30 p.m.

Dec. 22 at Park Rapids, 7:30 p.m.

Jan. 3 vs. Henning, 7:30 p.m.

Jan. 6 at Pillager, 7:30 p.m.

Jan. 12 vs Menahga, 7:30 p.m.

Jan. 13 vs. Frazee, 7:30 p.m.

An. 17 at Sebeka, 7:30 p.m.

Jan. 20 at Verndale, 7:30 p.m.

Jan. 24 at Pelican Rapids, 7:30 p.m.

Jan. 26 vs. Perham, 7:30 p.m.

Jan. 27 vs. New York Mills, 6 p.m.

Jan. 31 at Bertha-Hewitt, 4 p.m.

Feb. 2 at Henning, 7:30 p.m.

Feb. 3 at Crookston, 7:30 p.m.

Feb, 7 at LPGE, 7:30 p.m.

Feb. 9 vs. Parkers Prairie, 7:30 p.m.

Feb. 10vs. Pillager, 6 p.m.

Feb. 14 at Menahga, 7:30 p.m.

Feb. 17 vs. Sebeka, 7:30 p.m.

Feb. 23 at Barnesville, 7:30 p.m.

Jared Rubado is the sports editor for the Detroit Lakes Tribune and the Perham Focus. He moved to the area in September of 2021 after covering sports for the Alexandria Echo Press for nearly three years. Jared graduated from the University of Augustana in 2018 with degrees in journalism and sports managment.
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