Boys Basketball: Menahga overcame obstacles, went 7-20

Cory Kapphahn was pleased with the Braves' effort in his first season as head coach.

Cory Kapphahn (right) guided the Menahga boys basketball team to a 7-7 record in Park Region Conference play and a 7-20 overall record in his first season as the Braves' head coach during the 2022-23 campaign.
Vance Carlson / Park Rapids Enterprise

First-year head coach Cory Kapphahn was satisfied with the effort of the Menahga boys basketball team this season.

The Braves finished fourth in the Park Region Conference standings with a 7-7 record while going 7-20 overall. Even though his team didn’t win as many games as preferred, Kapphahn said the season was a success.

“Overall, I think that our season went well considering the obstacles that we had to work through. Starting off by not having a summer to work between coach and players due to my hire date, to having five practices before we played a large number of games early in the season against high quality programs, to all of the injuries and illnesses throughout the year. My teams did a lot of learning and growing throughout the season and were much better at the end of the season than we were early on in the schedule,” siad Kapphahn. “When I think back to the goals that I had at the beginning of the season, we didn't reach those goals in terms of our record. However as a coach, I always look at each individual player to see if they are improving on the court and maintaining the high standards we expect in the classroom. Those two areas, we definitely met our goals and expectations.”

Menahga started the season by losing nine of its first 10 games. After losses to Northland Remer (86-58), Pine River-Backus (78-64) and Nevis (75-38), the Braves dropped conference games to Henning (64-40) and New York Mills (73-42). Losses to Red Lake (72-58 in a section game) and Browerville-Eagle Valley (77-46) left Menahga with an 0-7 record. A 46-45 conference win over Verndale was followed with a section loss to Crookston (54-52) and a conference and section loss to Wadena-Deer Creek (78-65).

Bodie Berttunen received Park Region Conference and team MVP honors for the Braves during the 2022-23 season.
Vance Carlson / Park Rapids Enterprise

Back-to-back conference wins over Bertha-Hewitt (66-64) and Sebeka (74-53) were followed with losses to Aitkin (64-49), Park Rapids (81-44 in a section game), Pillager (83-63 in a conference game) and Henning (75-40). That losing streak ended with a 63-54 win over Pillager. After a 71-45 loss to Barnesville in a section contest, the Braves defeated New York Mills (60-47).


Menahga ended the regular season by going 1-6 in the final seven games. A loss to Long Prairie-Grey Eagle (56-45) and a loss to Verndale (51-43) were followed with a 74-39 victory over Sebeka. The Braves entered the playoffs with losses to Lake Park-Audubon (68-49), W-DC (73-55), Pillager (60-46) and Frazee (63-51 in overtime in a section game).

During the regular season, Menahga went 0-7 against Section 8AA opponents to receive the No. 16 seed for the playoffs. The Braves’ season ended with a 79-45 loss to No. 1 Thief River Falls in the tournament opener. No. 3 Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton defeated Thief River Falls 77-67 in overtime in the section championship game.

In the 27 games, the Braves averaged 53.7 points a game by making 36.7% of their shots (544 for 1,481, including going 139 for 545 on 3-pointers) and 50% on free throws (224 for 448). Menahga averaged 16.9 turnovers a game while forcing 14.5 turnovers and allowing 64.6 points a night.

Brock Berttunen capped off his senior season by leading Menahga with 234 rebounds and 49 blocked shots while averaging 5.7 per game during the 2022-23 season.
Vance Carlson / Park Rapids Enterprise

Playing the majority of the minutes for the Braves were seniors Brock Berttunen, Ryan Tolkkinen and Isaiah Usher; juniors Bodie Berttunen, Brayden Aho, Knaylor Howard and Blaise Anderson; and sophomore Carder Jettmann. Bodie Berttunen earned all-conference honors and was named the team’s MVP and Offensive MVP while Howard was an all-conference honorable mention player. Tollkinen was named the Braves’ Defensive MVP. Other team awards went to freshmen Tyrell Aho (Mr. Hustle) and Izaiah Aho (Most Improved Player).

Bodie Berttunen led the Braves by scoring 442 points (16.4 points a game), making 63 3-pointers and tallying 48 steals while finishing second with 189 rebounds (7.0 per game), 50 steals and 17 blocked shots in 27 games.

Aho was second in scoring with 258 points (9.6 per game) while contributing 104 rebounds, 27 steals and 20 assists in 27 games.

Tolkkinen averaged 7.7 points a game, scoring 103 points in 25 games. Tolkkinen was second on the team with 17 3-pointers while chipping in 96 rebounds, 25 assists and 25 steals.

Knaylor Howard (right) received Park Region Conference honorable mention honors for the Braves during the 2022-23 season.
Vance Carlson / Park Rapids Enterprise

Howard played in 26 games and scored 198 points (7.6 per game) and led the Braves with 81 assists. Howard also had 113 rebounds and was second on the team with 40 steals.


Brock Berttunen led Menahga with 234 rebounds (9.0 per game) and 49 blocks while scoring 148 points (5.7 per game). Berttunen also had 33 steals and 26 assists in 26 games.

Usher averaged 3.3 points a game with 40 rebounds, 21 assists and 19 steals in 22 games.

Jettmann played in 21 games and averaged 3.2 points while adding 68 rebounds, 18 assists and 11 steals.

Ryan Tolkkinen (left) concluded his senior season by averaging 7.7 points in 25 games for the Braves during the 2022-23 season.
Vance Carlson / Park Rapids Enterprise

Anderson averaged 2.9 points a game and had 31 rebounds and 20 steals.

Also seeing some varsity time were senior Quincy Jantz, junior Wesley Hodge and sophomore Jonas Lusti.

Even though the Braves will graduate four players, Kapphahn is looking forward to having even more success next season.

“We graduate Brock, Ryan, Isaiah and Quincy. These guys meant a lot to our program, and all had different experience and brought different things to the team. I think that each understood their role on the team and worked hard during practice to live up to that role come game day. These guys are going to be missed,” said Kapphahn. “We didn't have as much success as we wanted this season in regards to the W-L columns, but we have some talented, athletic guys of all ages in our program. I'll be returning four juniors and a sophomore that gained a lot of experience on the varsity court this season, along with some talented younger guys that are eager to make the jump to the varsity level next season. These guys have the expectation of being in the gym this summer to work on their individual skills, and we will be playing a lot of games too. I am very excited and ready to get to work with them to get where we want to be next winter. These returning guys in the program are committed to getting better and competing this summer is going to be key as to what we are going to be next season. When I think about this summer, I get excited to think of the gains that we can make both individually and as a team/program. I need to see guys coming to work in the gym if we want to climb the conference and section ladder next season.”

Senior Isaiah Usher averaged 3.3 points a game in 22 appearances for the Braves during the 2022-23 season.
Vance Carlson / Park Rapids Enterprise


Menahga statistics

Scoring average: Bo. Berttunen 16.4, B. Aho 9.6, Tolkkinen 7.7, Howard 7.6, Br. Berttunen 4.7, Usher 3.3, Jettmann 3.2, Anderson 2.9, Lusti 0.7, Hodge 0.3, Jantz 0.0, T. Aho 0.0.

Points: Bo. Berttunen 442, B. Aho 258, Howard 198, Tolkkinen 193, Br. Berttunen 148, Usher 72, Jettmann 67, Anderson 63, Lusti 8, Hodge 2.

Field goals: Bo. Berttunen 161-395, Aho 96-230, Tolkkinen 79-265, Howard 78-204, Br. Berttunen 56-134, Usher 26-81, Jettmann 22-64, Anderson 22-87, Lusti 3-11, Hodge 1-6, T. Aho 0-1, Jantz 0-3.

3-pointers: Bo. Berttunen 63-180, Tolkkinen 17-89, B. Aho 14-71, Usher 11-30, Howard 11-64, Br. Berttunen 9-44, Anderson 8-32, Jettmann 5-24, Lusti 1-5, Jantz 0-2, Hodge 0-4.

Free throws: Bo. Berttunen 57-90, B. Aho 52-95, Howard 31-71, Br. Berttunen 27-58, Tolkkinen 18-36, Jettmann 18-50, Anderson 11-22, Usher 9-22, Lusti 1-2, Jantz 0-2.

Rebounds: Br. Berttunen 234, Bo. Berttunen 189, Howard 113, B. Aho 104, Tolkkinen 96, Jettmann 68, Usher 40, Anderson 31, Lusti 5, Jantz 3.

Assists: Howard 81, Bo. Berttunen 50, Br. Berttunen 26, Tolkkinen 25, Usher 21, B. Aho 20, Jettmann 18, Anderson 9, Jantz 3, Lusti 1.

Steals: Bo. Berttunen 48, Howard 40, Br. Berttunen 33, B. Aho 27, Tolkkinen 25, Anderson 20, Usher 19, Jettmann 11.

Blocked shots: Br. Berttunen 49, Bo. Berttunen 17, Jettmann 8, Tolkkinen 7, B. Aho 6, Howard 4, Anderson 2, Usher 1.

Minutes: Bo. Berttunen 898, B. Aho 765, Br. Berttunen 764, Tolkkinen 731, Howard 704, Usher 433, Jettmann 327, Anderson 292, Lusti 41, Jantz 32, Hodge 20, T. Aho 1.

Fouls: Br. Berttunen 86, Tolkkinen 65, Howard 58, Bo. Berttunen 52, B. Aho 46, Jettmann 37, Usher 19, Anderson 16, Lusti 3, Jantz 2.

Turnovers: Howard 96, Bo. Berttunen 77, B. Aho 70, Tolkkinen 60, Usher 50, Jettmann 34, Br. Berttunen 30, Anderson 26, Lusti 6, Jantz 3, Hodge 1.


1982 Dawson-Boyd High School graduate
1987 Moorhead State University graduate
Sports reporter for Park Rapids Enterprise since 1987
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