If the Walker-Hackensack-Akeley boys’ basketball team expects to play for a section title, they will have to do it on the road.
Back on Feb. 13, the Wolves were sitting at 14-5 and held the No. 3 seed in the Section 5A playoffs.
Within a span of nine days, the Wolves lost five straight and fell all the way back to the No. 5 seed, which means no home playoff game.
On Feb. 26, the Wolves snapped its losing streak by beating Verndale 65-40 on Senior Night in Walker
The season-ending win does not help the Wolves in seeding, as Browerville will host a quarterfinal game Thursday night. Back on Jan. 31, WHA fell at Browerville 82-70.
Coach Darin Schultz said the team had a couple of goals coming into their home finale.
“We want to build some momentum going into the playoffs. We want to feel good and confident, because our guys know that they’re very capable of beating anybody. This win helps them remember that,” he said after the game. “But the biggest goal was to have these seniors walk off with a great memories of their last game, and tonight we did that.”
All seven seniors scored, with Tyler Duclos and Cade Pederson getting their first starts of the season, joining Gavin Deskeere, Seth Djernes and Cole Nelson.
Nelson led the class with 13 points and 15 rebounds. Pederson knocked down two second-half threes, Deskeere finished with five points, while Djernes and Duclos each scored.
The other seniors also had nice games. Tyler Sea had 11 points and Zach Josephson had three. Deskeere and Nelson each had three assists while Djernes, Josephson and Nelson led with three steals.
Tom Hansen came off the bench to lead the team in scoring with 15 points and added six rebounds.
Coach Schultz said having seven seniors in the program doesn’t happen very often. “For those seven guys to stick it out and to play through the ups and downs and still be here at the end, we’re proud of them.”
As for the game, Schultz said it came down to the guys having fun. “I think somewhere over the last few weeks the kids lost sight of enjoying and playing the game that we all love. Tonight we saw a lot of smiles.”
The Wolves got off to a quick start and led 12-5 early. Sea scored off his steal, Nelson banked in a put back and Deskeere followed with a three-point play. A short time later Josephson made his own old-fashioned three as the lead stretched to 21-8.
Back-to-back three-pointers by Sea and Ethan Anderson made it 31-13, and by the time the first half ended the lead was 39-18.
WHA shot 38 percent from the floor compared to only 27 percent for Verndale. The Wolves also had a 38-18 points in the paint advantage.
Brayden Vertina led the Pirates with 16 points, including making four three-pointers, while Matt Steege added 10.