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Verndale eliminates Menahga

After seeing a 13-point lead wiped out in the second half, the Verndale boys basketball team was able to rebound to eliminate Menahga from the Section 6A East tournament with a 73-61 victory Saturday night at the Park Rapids Century School gym.

After seeing a 13-point lead wiped out in the second half, the Verndale boys basketball team was able to rebound to eliminate Menahga from the Section 6A East tournament with a 73-61 victory Saturday night at the Park Rapids Century School gym.

Menahga, the No. 3 seed in the East, trailed 39-26 early in the second half before mounting a comeback.

Back-to-back 3-pointers by Eric Skoog and Don Maninga, a jumper by Maninga, a layup by Josh Redetzke, another 3-pointer by Skoog and a jumper by Isaiah Davis sparked a 15-4 run that closed the margin to 43-41 with 13:02 to play.

Josh Kern responded with two consecutive layups to give the No. 2-seeded Pirates a 47-41 edge before a layup by Brady Junes, a 3-pointer by Skoog and two free throws by Junes made it 49-48 with 7:06 remaining.

A three-point play by Junes tied the game at 51-51 at the 6:37 mark before a jumper by Skoog with 5:41 to play gave the Braves their first lead of the game at 53-52.

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But Verndale took the lead for good on a basket off a rebound by Jon Price and a three-point play by Shane Finck.

The Braves stayed within 62-57 with 2:55 left behind jumpers by Redetzke and Skoog, but Verndale sealed the win with a 10-0 run as Kern had two layups during that stretch.

Menahga went 2:41 without scoring until layups by Maninga and Davis in the final 14 seconds concluded the scoring for the Braves.

"This was a game we really believed we could win. We got off to a bad start. I'm not sure if it was nerves or the Verndale defensive pressure. Maybe it was both, but it took us the whole first half to really settle down," said Menahga head coach Jer-emy Nordick. "The whole season when our shots haven't been falling we had a tendency to get frustrated and hang our heads. The other night I thought we fought back and had great effort the second half. We were unfortunate by missing the front end of three (bonus) opportunities at the free throw line and they took advantage by getting some scores at the other end. In a big game like that, you can't afford to miss free throws down the stretch."

Verndale led the entire first half, but the Braves stayed close as a 3-pointer by Skoog, a jumper by Levi Tormanen, two jump shots by Maninga, and baskets off rebounds by Skoog and Junes kept Menahga within 17-13 at the 11:42 mark.

The Pirates went on an 8-0 run to claim a 25-13 lead with 8:55 to go before a pair of 3-pointers by Skoog and two inside baskets by Junes closed the margin to 28-24 with 4:38 to play in the first half. Three straight baskets by Spencer Moyer gave Verndale a 36-24 lead at the break.

A 3-pointer by Kopp gave the Pirates a 39-26 advantage before Menahga went on its 27-13 run. The Braves then missed five free throws down the stretch to end the season at 14-14.

Kern and Kopp scored 17 points each as Verndale had all five starters hit double figures. The Pirates carried a 20-8 record into Tuesday's East title game against Cass Lake.

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Skoog had 23 points, nine rebounds and six assists to lead the Braves. Junes added 13 points and 16 rebounds and Maninga added 12 points for Menahga, which lost to Verndale 78-67 and 78-59 during the regular season.

"We are disappointed with the loss, but I am proud of the way our guys hung in there and fought until the end," said Nordick. "I wish things could have went our way, but it's tournament time and anything can happen. There is only one team in the end who is truly happy and gets what they want."

MENAHGA: Tormanen 2 0-0 4, Skoog 9 0-2 23, Junes 5 3-3 13, Maninga 5 1-5 12, Redetzke 2 0-0 4, Davis 2 0-0 5, Nelson 0 0-0 0. Totals: 25 (FG), 4 of 10 (FT).

VERNDALE: Kern 8 1-1 17, Kopp 7 2-3 17, Finck 6 2-4 14, Price 4 2-2 10, Sp. Moyer 6 3-6 15. Totals: 31 (FG), 10 of 16 (FT).

Halftime: Verndale 36, Menahga 24. Three-point field goals: Skoog 5, Maninga 1, Davis 1, Kopp 1. Total fouls: Menahga 15, Verndale 13. Rebounds: Menahga 47 (Junes 16, Skoog 9, Redetzke 7, Maninga 6, Davis 4, Tormanen 4, Nelson 1). Assists: Menahga 16 (Skoog 6, Davis 4, Maninga 4, Tormanen 1, Junes 1). Steals: Menahga 2 (Skoog 1, Junes 1).

Braves eliminate Hill City

The Braves dominated the boards and took control of the game in the second half to open the section playoffs with a 65-47 win over No. 6 Hill City Thursday night at Nevis.

Menahga, which edged Hill City 60-56 in the first game of the season, used 59 rebounds to offset 31 turnovers for the win.

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Redetzke led the Braves with 19 points and eight rebounds while Skoog added 12 points. Tormanen had nine points, five assists and six steals; Junes grabbed 14 rebounds to go along with eight points; Davis had seven rebounds and four assists; and Maninga and Ty Nelson combined for 17 rebounds to spark the win.

"We expected Hill City to be a tough draw in the first round," said Nordick. "I thought that both teams came out a little nervous and both missed some easy opportunities early to take control of the game. We were able to create some easy baskets by picking things up on the defensive end. We had a good stretch of shooting and I thought we controlled their guards, which was the difference in the game."

MENAHGA: Davis 2 0-0 4, Tormanen 3 3-4 9, Skoog 4 1-2 12, Pihlaja 0 0-0 0, White 0 0-0 0, Junes 4 0-4 8, Thompson 0 1-2 1, Maninga 2 1-3 6, Nelson 2 0-0 4, Redetzke 8 3-6 19, Tyge 0 2-2 2. Totals: 25 (FG), 11 of 23 (FT).

Three-point field goals: Skoog 3, Maninga 1. Total fouls: Menahga 23. Fouled out: Maninga. Rebounds: Menahga 59 (Junes 14, Maninga 9, Nelson 8, Redetzke 8, Davis 7, Tormanen 7, Skoog 6). Assists: Menahga 17 (Tormanen 5, Davis 4, Skoog 3, Redetzke 2, Junes 1, Maninga 1, Nelson 1). Steals: Menahga 16 (Tormanen 6, Junes 3, Redetzke 3, Maninga 2, Davis 1, Skoog 1). Turnovers: Menahga 31.

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