Like most winter sports teams, the Walker-Hackensack-Akeley boys’ basketball team was unable to get together one last time to celebrate with a post-season banquet.
Coach Darin Schultz instead recognized the accomplishments of the team and players by sending a letter out to all his players, coaches and parents highlighting the season.
The Wolves, who for the fifth straight season had a winning record, finished the season at 16-12, including fifth place in the Northland Conference with a 7-7 mark.
“This season was a lot like life itself. It had its ups and downs,” said Schultz in the letter. “And like life, we had adversity, and we never gave up. This group continued to fight throughout the whole season.”
Schultz said going into the season he had two main goals. First, he wanted to create memories that will last these young men a lifetime, and he wanted to help create an environment that will help them gather skills that will prepare them to be successful in life after basketball.
WHA started the season 8-1 with wins against Northome-Kelliher, Laporte, Pine River-Backus, Park Rapids, Verndale, Menahga, Hill City and Red Lake, and a five-point loss to Lake Pauk-Audobon.
The Wolves lost some tough games to Nevis and Cass Lake-Bena, beat one-loss Clearbrook-Gonvick only to lose to Pine River-Backus on the road in a game they probably should have won. They followed with wins over Laporte and Sebeka to improve to 11-4.
Over the next couple of weeks, WHA would go 4-8, with four of those losses attributed to missed free throws.
On a four-game losing streak going into the playoffs, the Wolves played probably their best game of the season on the road to open the playoffs, easily beating Browerville. The Tigers beat WHA during the regular season and last year eliminated the Wolves from the playoffs.
“I couldn’t be more proud of this group of guys and all they have accomplished this season. For the senior boys, you have left an unforgettable mark on this program; not just because of wins and losses, but for how you played the game,” Schultz said. “I hope the underclassmen are able to take away some moments of growth, knowledge, fun and excitement, and be able to carry that through to this off-season in preparations for the upcoming season.”
The seniors recognized are Ethan Anderson, Connor Craven, Tom Hansen, Cole Rasmussen, Trenton Schultz and TJ Smith.
For the second year in a row three Wolves were named all-conference, and Schultz also recognized the team’s award winners.
The player selected to the Northland Conference all-conference team was Rasmussen, while Anderson and junior Clay Nelson were honorable mention.
In team awards — voted on by players and coaches, Rasmussen was named the team Most Valuable Player, Craven the Defensive Player of the Year, Schultz the Most Improved Player, Smith the Muscle Award and Hansen the Wolf Award for not only his work on the basketball court but in the classroom and the community.
Anderson also received the Free Throw King and Sharpshooter awards. He led the team in free throw percentage at 67.2 percent, and three-point shooting ay 30.8 percent.
Other varsity players receiving letters were Kai Ashmore and Carson Strosahl.