Wadena-Deer Creek comeback effort falls short in thriller against Verndale

WDC sees late charge come up empty in rivalry game.

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Wadena's Isaac Christianson fights for the ball against Verndale on Jan. 20, 2022 in Wadena.
Jonah Bowe / Wadena Pioneer Journal

The Wadena-Deer Creek boys basketball team came as close as they could to pulling off a wild comeback win against the Verndale Pirates on Thursday night. However, the Wolverines fell 58-56 after the Pirates hit a game-winning basket with 2.7 seconds remaining in the game to halt a riveting 43-point Wolverines second half.

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Wadena's Josiah Kallevig guards a Verndale player in a close game Thursday in Wadena.
Jonah Bowe/Wadena Pioneer Journal

Wadena had a very hard time finding any rhythm for the first half of the game. Verndale jumped to an early lead behind Brandon Greenwaldt's 10 points and Josh Johnson's eight. Verndale took 29-13 lead into the locker room. Payton Rondestvedt led the Wolverines with five points in the first half.

The second half looked like a completely different game as the Wolverines came out charged and motivated. After a Pirates' three-pointer increased their lead to 37-21, Wadena went on a 12-0 run led by Rondestvedt.

“Two completely different halves were played tonight," head coach Kevin Tumberg said. "We came out slow and sluggish and did not move the ball around like we are capable in the first half. In the second half, we finally started moving the ball and ourselves like we should be and we put up 40+ points."

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Wadena's Peyton Church goes up for a shot.
Jonah Bowe/Wadena Pioneer Journal

The tempo really started as both teams started exchanging shots on both ends of the floor. After the Pirates missed two free throws, WDC freshman Kobe Snyder sunk a quick shot from inside the paint to cut Verndale's lead to 55-53. WDC proceeded to foul Greenwaldt, who missed his first free throw but made his second to give Verndale a three-point lead with 25 seconds left.


The Wolverines moved the ball with poise, setting up a perfect shot for sophomore Peyton Church, who proceeded to drain the three-pointer from the top arch–evening the score at 56-56 with just over 10 seconds remaining.

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Payton Rondestvedt leads Wadena's second-half comeback Thursday against Verndale.
Jonah Bowe/Wadena Pioneer Journal

That's all it would take for Verndale senior Ben Brownlow to get open under the net and put an end to the Wolverines comeback, icing the game for the Pirates 58-56.

"It’s been frustrating that we’ve been so inconsistent this season from game to game," TUmberg said. "We need to get things figured out as we are approaching the middle of the season.”

Rondestvedt led the Wolverines in scoring on the night with 18 points and eight rebounds. Peyton Church had 11 points and three rebounds, while Teshe Loer had eight points and three rebounds.

Brandon Greenwaldt and Hunter Umland led the Pirates with 14 points apiece, and Josh Johnson had 12 points. The Wolverines (4-8) will face off against New York Mills on the road at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday.

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