WHA’s Clay Nelson tries to get around a Cass Lake-Bena defender on this first-half play.

The Walker-Hackensack-Akeley boys got off to a horrible start at Blackduck Friday, and by the time the first half ended they were down by more than 20 points.

Hot shooting and forced turnovers allowed the 5-4 Drakes to jump out to a 47-21 halftime lead. The Wolves played better in the second half but were never in the game, losing 76-42.

The Wolves shot only 31 percent from the field, compared to 67.4 for Blackduck. The Drakes also had a 54-28 advantage on points in the paint, 30-6 on points off turnovers and 18-6 on transition points.

It didn’t help matters that WHA was 8-18 from the foul line and finished with only seven assists.

Clay Nelson was only the Wolf to finish in double figures with 14 points. He also had five rebounds and three steals.

Carson Strosahl, who was in foul trouble most of the first half, finished with nine points. Kai Ashmore had eight points and led with three assists, while Kenseth Taylor had six steals.

Leading the Drakes was Sawyer Nendick with 22 points, Ethan Merrill scored 17 and Oliver Stroeing added 16.

This week 1-7 WHA plays at 3-7 Pine River-Backus and 1-7 Laporte, and hosts5-7 Northome-Kelliher.

Panthers improve to 9-2

After falling behind in the first half to visiting Cass Lake-Bena Feb. 16, the Wolves started the second half with a lot more energy and quickly cut into the 19-point deficit.

Three-pointers by Taylor and Adam Smith, and a lay up by Nelson cut the lead to 14 points. If not for two missed foul shots and two lay ups the Panthers’ lead would have only been single digits.

But it all changed that quickly and the Panthers took control for a 72-44 win, improving their record to 9-2.

The Panthers finished the game shooting 52 percent compared to 32 for WHA. Cass Lake-Bena also had 50-18 advantage on points in the paint, 13-2 on second chance points and a 44-23 rebounding advantage.

In the first half WHA turned the ball over 15 times and gave up 16 points off those mistakes. Another 10 turnovers led to 12 more points in the second half. WHA finished with only 15 points off the Panthers’ 23 turnovers.

Taylor led WHA with 15 points, scoring 11 in the second half that included a trio of three-pointers. Nelson finished with 13 points and six steals, while Strosahl had eight rebounds, four assists and three steals.

Smith made two threes in the second half for six points, and Logan Watts scored four points late in the game.

Junior Leroy Fairbanks, one of five underclassmen that starts for the Panthers, led all scorers with 28 points. Sixteen of those points came in the second half as Cass Lake closed the game on a 27-14 run.

Dominic Fairbanks and Cole Coss each scored 12, and Kaydin Lee added eight.

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