Brandon Greenwaldt doesn’t need a play called for him to make an impact.
The Verndale junior tallied a 20-point, 20-rebound game against Browerville followed by a 21-point, 13-rebound game against Bertha-Hewitt in two Pirate wins.
“He did a very good job of being active on the glass,” Verndale head coach Greg Johnson said. “He didn’t give up. He worked hard to corral those.”
Defensively, Greenwaldt tallied six blocks in the win over Bertha-Hewitt making an impact on both ends.
Most of Greenwaldt’s points have come either from offensive rebounds or free throws. He went 9-for-10 from the free throw line against Browerville and 6-for-7 against Bertha-Hewitt.
Having a 6-foot-4 center shoot that well at the free throw line is a luxury for Johnson. Especially considering last year Greenwaldt was a 42% free throw shooter.
“He’s been shooting his free throws well,” Johnson said. “When your inside players can shoot well from the free throw line that always bolds well. That’s an area where he spent a lot of time in the offseason and it’s showing. Free throws were the difference in both of our wins.”
Greenwaldt said he has gotten better at reading rebounds off the rim which helps him be relentless on the glass.
“I got a good idea where the ball is going to go and I box out my area,” Greenwaldt said. “With scoring inside, just using my height and my ability to jump to my advantage to score the best way I can.”
Greenwaldt’s athleticism is what Johnson credits to him being an excellent rebounder.
“He’s not extremely tall,” Johnson said. “But he’s very active.”
Verndale plays a 2-3 zone and Greenwaldt plays in the middle of it. He tries to stay on his feet and be smart.
“I don’t want to fall for nothing on head fakes,” Greenwaldt said. “I make sure everyone is where they need to be and cover for them if they need it.”
Johnson said when Greenwaldt is at his best there are no uncontested shots at the rim.
“Six blocks against Bertha is a big night,” he said. “But it’s necessarily our goal for him to block shots. We want him to contest and make sure there is nothing easy. We don’t want to give up layups.”
In the zone, Greenwaldt tries to find the other team’s best rebounder and box them out.
As a sophomore last year, Greenwaldt averaged 9.2 points and 7.6 rebounds while tallying one block a game in 25 games.
“Last year, I was really nervous every single game,” Greenwaldt said. “This year, I am really confident in myself. Coach has been really good. He’s been helping me all summer and staying on me about keeping my head up and not staying down on myself.”
Greenwaldt plays defensive end for the Verndale football team. In the last game of the season, he ran back an interception for a touchdown in the Pirates’ win over Wheaton. He prefers being on the basketball court, however.
“Naturally, I excel better at basketball,” Greenwaldt said. “They are both great sports though. I like knowing that I can control the outcome of the game by working hard and rebounding.”
Greenwaldt feels he has a good connection with the guards on the team.
“We’ve been playing together since we were in kindergarten,” he said. “It’s been nothing new. We get better as the season goes on.
“Playing with these guys, I know when they are going to shoot and if they are going to shoot. I can anticipate which pass is going where and when they are going to shoot.”
Verndale’s roster is all juniors and seniors which helps the continuity.
“This group of seniors has always been a small group of basketball players,” Johnson said. “They are very unselfish and I talk about it in practice that they enjoy the success of their teammates as much as themselves which leads to balance.”
Going into a game, Greenwaldt isn’t worried about getting the most points or rebounds, but just wants to do what’s best for the team. Twenty-one points tied a varsity career-high for Greenwaldt.
“They are really relying on me to hold my own down low, and do well for the team,” he said. “It’s something I know that I can pull off every game.”
Other notable performances:
Basketball: Dietrich Winegarner, Crosby-Ironton, scored 24 points in a win over Two Harbors.
Alex Morgan, Pequot Lakes, scored 28 points in a win over Crosby-Ironton.
Hockey: Matt Filippi, Little Falls, scored two goals in a win over Thief River Falls.
Caiden Kjelstrom, Northern Lakes, scored two goals in a win over Park Rapids.
Hunter Nybakken, Northern Lakes, scored two goals in a win over Park Rapids.
Highlights: He scored 20 points in a win over Browerville and 21 points in a win over Bertha-Hewitt.