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Menahga boys focusing on teamwork, improvement

Jeremy Nordick says teamwork will be the key to success for the Menahga boys basketball team this season. The Braves graduated their top scorers in Austin Rudquist (20.2 points, 7.7 rebounds per game), Austen Schwartz (13.8 points, 3.5 assists pe...

     Jeremy Nordick says teamwork will be the key to success for the Menahga boys basketball team this season.

     The Braves graduated their top scorers in Austin Rudquist (20.2 points, 7.7 rebounds per game), Austen Schwartz (13.8 points, 3.5 assists per game) and Kyle Skoog (8.5 points, 4.3 rebounds per game). Calvin Taylor (2.7 points, 3.5 rebounds per game), Nick Meyer (3.0 points per game), Jake Kicker (2.7 points per game), DJ Paulson and Blake Hillukka also graduated.

     Being counted on to take over the starting roles are seniors Aaron Rudquist (6-1 guard), Aaron Hrdlicka (6-2 forward) and Charles Haataja (6-1 guard) and juniors Luke Wurdock (6-0 guard) and Kirby Hrdlicka (5-11 forward). Haataja and Aaron Hrdlicka will serve as captains.

     Providing depth off the bench will be senior Darien Mickelson (5-8 guard); juniors Damon Howard (5-11 guard), Canton Matson (6-3 center), Al Pietila (5-6 guard) and Charley Steidler-Thompson (5-7 guard); and sophomore Owen Anderson (5-11 forward).

     Starting the season on junior varsity will be seniors Tristian Hendrickson and Chance Jokela; junior Zach Berttunen; sophomores Anthony Wurdock, Grant Tolkkinen, Jordan Honga and Ian Kim; and freshmen Garin Matson, Mason Hotakeinen and Thomas Litzau.

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     Aaron Rudquist averaged 6.0 points a game, making 42 of 136 shots (30.9 percent) and 23 of 40 free throws (57.5 percent) in scoring 114 points in 19 games. Rudquist also had 53 rebounds, 29 steals and 14 assists.

     Aaron Hrdlicka played in 14 games and made 23 of 71 shots (32.4 percent) and 24 of 38 free throws (63.2 percent) in scoring 75 points (5.4 per game). Hrdlicka also had 77 rebounds and 16 steals.

     Kirby Hrdlicka played in 20 games and made 8 of 33 shots (24.2 percent) and 5 of 17 free throws (29.4 percent) in scoring 21 points. Hrdlicka also had 42 rebounds.

     Wurdock scored 14 points in 14 games while Haataja scored 9 points in 14 games.

     Last season, the Braves finished 5-7 in Park Region Conference play and 11-15 overall. Menahga received the No. 7 seed in the north for the Section 5A tournament and defeated No. 10 Northland 67-47 before falling to No. 2 Browerville 75-54.

     Nordick is looking for the Braves to work as a team and improve throughout the season.

     “The expectation going into this season is build a new culture, through winning and positive attitudes. The focus will be on “WE” over “ME” and build a team unity that I’ve felt we haven’t had for a couple years. This is a group of hard-working guys. They’re all coachable and they all love to compete. These kids, win or lose, are great role models for our young kids. I like what I’ve seen in practice up to this point. They really challenge themselves and encourage each other,” said Nordick, who will be assisted by Charlie Dormanen, Steve Bruer and Tim Wurdock. “I think there will be a lot of parity this year. I think anyone on any given night could come home with a win. We will start small with our goals and build as we go. We’ll focus on win No. 1 and take it from there.”

Related Topics: BOYS BASKETBALL
1982 Dawson-Boyd High School graduate
1987 Moorhead State University graduate
Sports reporter for Park Rapids Enterprise since 1987
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