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Gruchow, Tyge do more than just lead Menahga in scoring

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Entering the season, Jeremy Nordick knew Tom Gruchow and Kasey Tyge would be the leading scorers for the Menahga boys basketball team.

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Those two Menahga seniors have had no problem scoring this season as Gruchow is leading the Braves at 14.4 points a game while Tyge is second at 11.8 points a night.

Those averages helped the senior duo reach scoring milestones this season when Gruchow went over 1,000 career points in a win over Park Rapids on Feb. 24 and Tyge surpassed 1,000 career points in Monday night's playoff win over Pillager.

Nordick credits those two players for leading the way in the Braves' success this season.

"Tom and Kasey are special kids who have meant a ton to our program. They have been cornerstones of our up-and-coming basketball program and have been our leaders on this team," said Nordick. "One of the big reasons for Tom's success is his work ethic. He prides himself on being the hardest worker out on the floor and giving his absolute best. We've got Kasey at point guard most of the time and I really feel that he should be more of a small forward or a shooting guard. But Kasey is willing to do what's best for the team and that says a lot about him."

Both have made major improvements in their games since joining the varsity as freshmen.

Gruchow played in 27 games as a freshman and compiled 119 points (4.4 per game), 109 rebounds and 34 steals.

As a sophomore, Gruchow played in 26 games and scored 229 points (8.8 per game) and had 161 rebounds (6.2 per game) and 19 steals.

Tyge played in 26 games as a freshman and had 149 points (5.7 per game), 74 rebounds, 33 assists and 23 steals. Tyge made 23 3-pointers in his first varsity season.

Those numbers improved during his sophomore season as Tyge tallied 286 points (11.0 per game), 34 3-pointers, 100 rebounds and 39 steals and led the Braves with 83 assists.

The team didn't have much success those two seasons as the Braves went 6-21 in 2007-08 and 6-20 in 2008-09.

Menahga's fortunes changed in the third varsity season for Gruchow and Tyge. Led by Derek Pihlaja (who averaged 19.3 points a game and also surpassed 1,000 points in his career) and Marlin Aho (who averaged 14.7 points and 11.7 rebounds a game), the Braves went 15-11. Gruchow and Tyge also played key roles in that success.

As juniors, Gruchow averaged 12.6 points and 8.8 rebounds a game while Tyge averaged 12.6 points with 41 3-pointers and led the team with 110 assists. Gruchow tallied 327 points, 229 rebounds, 60 steals, 42 assists and 13 blocks in 26 games while Tyge had 277 points, 74 rebounds and 55 steals in 22 games.

Gruchow and Tyge have had equally impressive senior seasons in leading the Braves to a 13-12 record so far.

In 25 games, Gruchow leads the team with 361 points, 221 rebounds and 92 steals to go along with 44 assists and 11 blocked shots. Tyge has compiled 294 points, 107 rebounds and 79 steals while leading the team with 69 assists and 42 3-pointers.

Gruchow, a 6-foot-1 forward, scored at least 20 points in eight games with a high of 25 against Sebeka. He also grabbed at least 10 rebounds in eight games with a high of 19 against Pillager. He also had 10 steals against Swanville.

For his career, Gruchow has 1,036 points, 720 rebounds, 205 steals, 116 assists and 34 blocks in 104 games. He has made 386 of 833 field goals (46.3 percent) and 263 of 499 free throws (52.7 percent).

"Our team philosophy is defensive effort dictates offensive opportunities. Tom is the prime example of how this is done. Every night Tom is matched up against the other team's biggest or most physical player. Tom isn't the biggest guy, but he always seems to manage to lead us in most categories. I've never seen a guy work so hard to get a rebound in my coaching career," said Nordick. "I am very proud of Tom and his accomplishments and honored to be his coach. The first thing he did when he achieved 1,000 points was thank his teammates. This is just a prime example of the type of guy Tom is."

Tyge, a 6-foot guard, has scored in double figures 16 times this season with a high of 24 in the playoff win over Pillager. Tyge also had 10 steals against Swanville and 10 rebounds against Verndale while dishing out six assists against Hill City and Cass Lake. He tied his season high with four 3-pointers Monday night.

Tyge has compiled 1,006 points, 355 rebounds, 295 assists and 196 steals in 99 games in his career. Tyge has made 375 of 1,142 field goals (32.7 percent) and 118 of 208 free throws (56.7 percent). Tyge also has 140 career 3-pointers.

"Kasey has played a lot of minutes throughout his career. He's a guy that the guys really look for to make that big shot down the stretch of games in tough situations," said Nordick. "He's not one who is going to back down from anything. I'm very proud and honored to be Kasey's coach. He's had an outstanding career as a Brave and deserves the recognition for the hard work and effort he's put in to be successful."

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