Wahpeton’s grueling stretch of home games continued against Grand Forks Red River in a rescheduled conference bout on Saturday, Feb. 8. Defense ruled the opening half as the Huskies trailed 24-13. A late run from the hosts put them in striking distance to take the lead, but the Roughriders did just enough to hold on for a 55-52 victory.
“It was a great effort in the second half again,” Wahpeton coach Jeff Ralph said. “In the first half it was kind of a repeat of Friday night. We just didn’t put the ball in the basket.”
Wahpeton played their best basketball in the final eight minutes when they closed out the game on a 19-4 run.
“I thought the boys played hard and we locked them down toward the end,” Ralph said. “We changed up defenses a little bit, which was really good for us. It kind of kept them back on their heels a little bit.”
A major factor in the run at the end of the game was Dez Munezero. The junior point guard buried a trio of 3-pointers during the surge, ending the game with a team-high 14 points.
“Dez really sparked it,” Ralph said. “Dez was really aggressive in the second half and I thought that was the difference for us offensively.”
As frustrating as it was to only score 13 points in the opening half, the Huskies were happy with the way their defense kept them in the game. The home team flourished in their man and zone approaches.
“We were really happy with (the defense in the first half). They’re a difficult team to guard,” Ralph said. “The zone changeup was good for us going back and forth between zone and man. I think that was good for us because it kind of made them stop and look what we were doing to see what they wanted to run. It maybe took them out of a rhythm a little bit offensively.”
Wahpeton (5-10) completes their homestand against the top team in the conference, Fargo Davies. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 11.
“This is what is preparing us for the end of the year. Chances are we’re not going to get in the top five so we’re going to get a play-in game and we’re not going to see Sheyenne, Davies and Red River,” Ralph said. “I think these games are preparing us for who we’re going to have to play to get in the tournament and if we can get some shots to fall we can maybe sneak up on somebody.”
Wahpeton Stat Leaders
Dez Munezero- 14
Jared Bartels- 11
Blake Matejcek- 8
Corbin Cornelius- 8
Blake Matejcek- 8
Tyler Tollefson- 2
Ethan Manock- 1