TJ Smith easily had his best game of his career as the senior came off the bench to score all 16 points in the second half and grab 17 rebounds as the Wolves overcame a rough first half to begin 2020 with a 57-48 road win over Red Lake.
Senior Ethan Anderson and junior Clay Nelson also had a good second halves as both finished with 13 points. Anderson made three of his four three-pointers over the final 18 minutes and Nelson scored nine of his points in the second half.
Coach Darin Schultz said this was a big win for the Wolves, who over the next 10 days face Blackduck, Cass Lake-Bena, Clearbrook-Gonvick, Nevis and Pine River-Backus.
“Anytime you can hold a team to under 50 points, you’re doing a great job,” the coach said. “Our guys did a nice job of moving the ball against their zone and our guys made plays in the second half. We also did a good job of contesting their shots.”
Walker-Hackensack-Akeley trailed by six points at the half as they had 11 of their 18 turnovers, gave up nine offensive rebounds and missed six bunnies or lay ups. They also missed some open shots.
The Wolves dominated the second half, outscoring the home team 38-23.
“We didn’t play a good first half, but the guys showed a lot of resiliency. Our guys battled all game long. We need the same effort with all these tough games coming up,” Schultz added.
Of the nine WHA players who saw action, all them contributed in the win.
Tom Hansen finished with seven points and six boards, both Connor Craven and Trent Schultz made a three-pointer, and Cole Rasmussen grabbed 13 boards and led with five assists.
Enrique Fineday and Carson Strosahl didn’t score, but they had some quality minutes in the game.
Delwyn Holthusen scored 20 of his game-high 24 points in the first half. In the second Nelson kept him in check. He also had to sit about six minutes after he picked up his fourth foul.
Each team shot only 31 percent from the field, but WHA made three more three-pointers, led 25-13 on second-chance points, outrebounded the Warriors 62 to 35, had six more points in the paint and shot eight more foul shots.
Both WHA and Red Lake were less than 50 percent from the foul line, but down the stretch the Wolves were able to make enough free throws to keep the lead.
The 8-1 Wolves face Nevis at home and Cass Lake-Bena on the road this week, and next week they host Clearbrook-Gonvick, and are at Blackduck and Pine River-Backus.