Walker-Hackensack-Akeley got last week off to a great start by beating host Northome-Kelliher by 19 points, but then they dropped their next two on the road.
In Friday night’s showdown at Blackduck, the Wolves finished with more than 20 turnovers in their third straight game and made only two three-pointers in the second half as they fell 63-58 in a game that was close throughout.
Coach Darin Schultz told his players going into the week that it would be a grind. “We’re a little tired right now with three straight road games. But there’s a lot of things we need to learn to overcome because there’s not much [time] left. We got four games left in the regular season and then playoffs.”
Cole Nelson did his job scoring a game-high 23 points, with 17 coming in the second half.
Cole Rasmussen finished with 11 points and Zach Josephson added 10, while Blackduck had five guys score in double figures.
“We know our strength is in the post, but late in the second half when we needed buckets, we couldn’t get it there,” Schultz said. “For us right now we have to take it game by game, and we have to try and get better each and every game, and hope we are playing our best come March 7, because that’s when it’s going to count the most.”
It was a one-possession game late, with Schultz stating they just couldn’t make shots. “We forced some and missed some wide open ones.”
Blackduck had a player who did step up and sink three threes, and they also made 4-4 foul shots in the closing seconds. Sawyer Nendick, a sophomore, scored all of his 10 points in the second half. Kobe Arp finished the game with 12 points, with Quinn Mckeeman and Ethan Merrill each scoring 10.
Blackduck led 31-30 at the break as Dylan Moen scored 12 of his 18 points.
The Wolves had seven players score in the first half. Josephson scored all of his points, including making two three-pointers. Rasmussen had five and Trenton Schultz sank a three.
With the two losses, the Wolves drop to 14-7 with three games remaining on the schedule, of which two are on the road. WHA currently sits at No. 4 in the Section 5A North, behind Pine River-Backus and Nevis. Cromwell is No. 1 with a 17-3 mark.
Wolves rough up Mustangs
The Wolves picked up a big conference road win Feb. 12, when they easily beat Northome-Kelliher 71-52.
WHA sits third in the conference at 7-3, just behind 12-0 Cass Lake-Bena and 9-4 Pine River-Backus.
Nelson continued to be the team’s most consistent scorer, leading the way with 21 points and grabbing 13 boards. Both Josephson and Rasmussen scored 10, Sea finished with nine and Anderson tossed in eight points.
Rasmussen led with seven assists, and along with Josephson pulled down six boards. Deskeere finished with five assists and Sea had three steals
Before the game, the Mustangs recognized their five seniors, and during the game celebrated when senior Adnew Stueven became the school’s all-time leading scorer.
Despite those distractions, Coach Schultz said his guys played great.
“The guys have been playing really well, and to go up and win handily shows how good our guys are playing. We shot so well because we got a lot of good looks down low. The guys did a good job of getting the ball were it needed to go, and on defense we got stops.”
Stueven was the only Mustang to finish in double figures, leading all scoring with 27 points.
Two Wolves injured in loss
The Wolves were down only 22-19 when Nelson went down with a leg injury in the first half. The senior center, who led his team with 11 points, did not return to action and host Cass Lake-Bena ended the half on an 18-8 run.
Josephson also went down with an ankle injury and was out for most of the second half as the hot-shooting Panthers cruised to an 82-47 win.
“We knew these last couple of weeks were going to be a grind, and we knew were couldn’t win them all. They were cold in the first half and we missed our opportunity to get a lead. The guys had good looks but we couldn’t make our shots,” Coach Schultz said.
The Panthers couldn’t miss in the second half, dropping in eight three-pointers. Jarell Jacobs made two of them and finished with 40 points. Timmy Smith scored all 16 of his points in the second half and Jared Brown added 15.
Both Anderson and Rasmussen finished with eight points, with Hansen scoring six and Trenton Schultz adding five.