Sibling affair: Gravelle and Carsten sisters dominate in WDC’s OT thriller over Pillager

The Wadena-Deer Creek girls basketball team needed overtime to defeat Park Region Conference rival Pillager on Friday night.

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Wadena-Deer Creek Addyson Gravelle's three-point attempt before Payton Gravelle's game-winner in the Wolverines' 62-59 overtime victory over Pillager at Wadena on Feb. 10, 2023.
Nick Leonardelli / Wadena Pioneer Journal

WADENA – The Wadena-Deer Creek girls basketball team duked it out with Pillager on Friday night

The Wolverines (14-9, 8-4 Park Region) narrowly escaped the Huskies (7-12, 3-8) 62-59 in a game that went down to the wire. WDC needed some late-game heroics in what was a night to remember for eighth-grader Payton Gravelle.

The first half ended with WDC up 30-24. Madison Carsten finished the half with 13 points, while her sister, Montana Carsten, had nine. The sibling duo combined for 22 of the Wolverines’ first 30 points.

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Wadena-Deer Creek's Madison Carsten goes up for the contested layup in the Wolverines' 62-59 overtime victory over Pillager at Wadena on Feb. 10, 2023.
Nick Leonardelli / Wadena Pioneer Journal

The Huskies entered the second half with a different level of energy. Pillager cut the lead to 30-28 just a few minutes into the half. Approaching the eight and half minute mark, the two teams were tied at 42-42. With 1:10 left in regulation, Pillager’s Juliana Ewald sank a 3-pointer to tie the game at 50.

With 35 seconds left, WDC’s Jada Dykhoff a 3-pointer of her own to put the Wolverines up 53-50. The Huskies answered 24 seconds later with an Alayna Kavanaugh deep ball, pushing the game to overtime.


The Huskies started overtime with two quick buckets to grab their first lead of the game. However, the Gravelle sisters decided to take over. Payton Gravelle got things started with a 3-pointer before Addyson Gravelle long ball of her own. The Wolverines were back in the driver's seat up 59-57 with 1:20 left.

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Wadena-Deer Creek's Peyton Gravelle attempts a shot behind the arc in the Wolverines' 62-59 overtime victory over Pillager at Wadena on Feb. 10, 2023.
Nick Leonardelli / Wadena Pioneer Focus

Ewald tied the game at 59-59 after a steal led to a transition layup. With 10 seconds left, the Wolverines got the ball in the hands of Addyson Gravelle out of a timeout. Her corner 3-pointer attempt fell short but her sister had her back.

Payton Gravelle grabbed the offensive board, made the put-back bucket and forced a foul for a chance at a 3-point play with less than a second left to play. The eighth-grade center sent the gym into a frenzy, celebrating WDC’s fourth-straight win.

“That was a wild, super back-and-forth game,” WDC head coach Jordan Cresap said. “Pillager played some different defenses that we haven’t seen, and we just had to roll with it, make some adjustments on the fly and hope some players stepped it up. Luckily, we got what we asked for in that second half and brought it to OT. … They took Montana and Madison Carsten out of the game after the first half, but those two were still in the game defensively. Shoutout to them for their efforts. That was a game for the ages.”

Cresap had to credit his team’s will to win in what was an emotional rollercoaster of a finish.

“It was the girls believing in themselves and not being afraid to fail,” he said. “That is a huge step for our team. It was great to see them not shy away from the big moment, especially in a close game like tonight. We had a lot of young girls playing late in a very intense game. For the most part, we kept our composure and made some big-time plays.”

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Wadena-Deer Creek's Peyton Gravelle sets a pick for teammate Montana Carsten in the Wolverines' 62-59 overtime victory over Pillager at Wadena on Feb. 10, 2023.
Nick Leonardelli / Wadena Pioneer Journal

The Gravelle sisters carried the Wolverines’ weight offensively in the second half and in overtime. They combined for 25 points in the final 18 minutes of regulation before scoring all nine in the extra session for WDC.

“Addy and Payton were huge for us tonight with both of them hitting some outside shots in OT,” Cresap said. “Then Payton had the putback to give us the win. That’s the kind of player Payton has been all year for us. That gritty player who crashes the paint every time and gets boards. To have that happen for her, it was amazing. Especially only being an eighth-grader, being in that spot and making that shot, and seeing how the crowd reacted, it was a pretty cool moment that we will remember forever.”


Addyson Gravelle finished with a team-high 17 points. Payton Gravelle(16 points) and Madison Carsten(14) also hit double figures.

Pillager’s Grace Grimsley finished with a game-high 25 points.

Cresap was extremely happy to finally see his team be on the winning side of a close game.

“It was a huge win, especially coming out on top in a close game,” he said. “The past couple of weeks we have had close games and didn’t come out on top. Being able to pull this one out, it was really good for our kids to go through that intense of a game.”

WDC 30 23 9- 62

PIL 24 29 6- 59

WADENA-DEER CREEK SCORING- Addyson Gravelle 17, Montana Carsten 9, Jada Dykhoff 3, Ally Pavek 5, Madison Carsten 14, Payton Gravelle 16

PILLAGER SCORING- Alayna Kavanaugh 3, Grace Grimsley 25, Grace Mudgett 3, Juliana Ewald 16, Bailey Schommer 7, Jada Loucks 5


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