Boys Basketball: Browerville-EV ends underdog Verndale's season
WADENA--When the Browerville/Eagle Valley Tigers are under duress, they want the ball in the hands of Bryce Irsfeld. The 6-foot junior guard is the Tigers' go-to guy and he delivered in the clutch Friday as BEV defeated the underdog Verndale Pira...
WADENA-When the Browerville/Eagle Valley Tigers are under duress, they want the ball in the hands of Bryce Irsfeld.
The 6-foot junior guard is the Tigers' go-to guy and he delivered in the clutch Friday as BEV defeated the underdog Verndale Pirates 63-51 for the Section 5-1A championship at Wadena-Deer Creek High School.
BEV 63, Verndale 51
- The key: The Tigers shot 49 percent from the field while limiting the Pirates to 33 percent
- Overall: V 19-10, BEV 26-2
- Next: BEV in Class 1A state quarterfinals, Williams Arena, Minneapolis, Thursday.
--- Leading 45-41 with about four minutes remaining, Irsfeld took charge. He scored 16 of his team's final 18 points to send the Tigers to the Class 1A state tournament while ending Verndale's bid for the first state tournament in program history.
"I feel like most of the game we were playing a little more hesitant than what we normally do," Irsfeld said. "That's a credit to Verndale for playing us the way they did. Coach (Robert) Schueller in the second half said win each 4-minute segment. I think we did that the second half pretty well and we hit our free throws at the end."
Irsfeld finished 10-for-11 at the foul line, all in the second half, and 11-for-17 from the field on his way to a game-high 37 points. No other BEV player scored more than nine.
"Irsfeld I thought we did as good a job as we can on a guy like that," Verndale coach Jordan Hinkle said. "He's super talented. We thought if we could hold him to 30 we'd have a shot. If we held him to 30, we would have had one. He's a pretty tremendous player."
Luke Weniger scored 16 to lead the Pirates. Mitchell Blaha added 11 and Mac Schluttner 10. Verndale, the No. 3 seed in the North Subsection, finished 19-10 after winning 15 of its last 18 games.
"I'm proud of these guys," Hinkle said. "They worked their tails off. Every guy that comes in and plays minutes for me is working hard."
The Pirates return three starters and all but three players on their roster next season.
"We have a pile of other juniors and sophomores that are anxious," Hinkle said. "Hopefully we can have this conversation next year in a different tone."
After BEV seized a 37-31 lead in the second half, the Pirates stormed back with a 7-point run for a 38-37 lead, their last lead and only their second in the contest. Irsfeld then rattled off eight straight points for a 45-38 BEV advantage. A 3-point play by Weniger cut it to 45-41 before Irsfeld and the Tigers seized control of the game.
BEV outscored the Pirates 34-25 in the second half.
"It was one of those things where the breaks that we made these last couple games we finished them. We capitalized on all those breaks," Hinkle said. "I felt like we were almost there all night tonight. But that's what a good team does against you-you're almost always right there."
Whenever the Tigers switched to zone from man, it bothered Verndale and was partly responsible for the Pirates shooting only 33 percent (20 of 61) from the floor while BEV finished at 49 percent (22 of 45).
"Think about how many we missed around the rim," Hinkle said. "I thought at halftime they missed theirs at the rim too. They were probably saying the same thing at halftime. There were a couple 6- to 8-point swings where we had opportunities at the rim and didn't get it or fumbled it off. That's jitters and nerves.
"When it was 38-37, we had an opportunity to maybe go up three and we didn't get it. Then they come down and get an and one. All of a sudden, instead of us up three, we're down two. That was the turning point in the game."
Irsfeld, who averages 27.1 points and 7.4 assists, scored 13 in a fast-paced first half, including a long three in the final seconds to give the Tigers a 29-26 edge at the intermission. The Tigers shot 46 percent (12 of 26) in the half, including 8 of 13 from inside the arc, while Verndale shot just 30 percent (10 of 33).
BEV, the No. 1 seed in the South Subsection and ranked fifth in Class 1A, led the entire first half until 2:06 remained when a Blaha free throw tied it for Verndale 23-23. Irsfeld then buried a three which was matched by Weniger to make it 26-26 before Irsfeld's trey put BEV in front by three.
Verndale 26 25-51
Browerville 29 34-63
Ryan Warwick 9, Bryce Irsfeld 37, Brendan Emery 9, Noah Iten 4, Trevor Johnson 2, Cody Lisson 2. FG 22-45 (49 percent). FT 12-19 (63 percent). 3-point 7-19 (37 percent). Turnovers: 12.
Ethan Korfe 2, Mitchell Blaha 11, Luke Weniger 16, Mac Schluttner 10, Nathan Sabinash 3, Kyle Schmitz 6, Jordan Brownlow 3. FG 20-61 (33 percent). FT 5-9 (56 percent). 3-point 6-17 (35 percent). Turnovers: 10.