The No. 1 Henning Hornets took command from the opening tip-off running away from No. 2 Mahnomen-Waubun to advance to the Section 6A championship game after an 82-52 victory Wednesday, March 13 at The Hive Gymnasium in Perham.
The Hornets forced turnovers on the defensive end and turned them into points quickly building a 15-2 lead on the defending champions three minutes into the game on a field goal by Isaac Fisher.
“I think there were some jitters going into the game knowing they’d gone to state last year, but we all just came to play and were ready to go against a big team,” Henning senior guard Blake Wallevand said.
The fast-paced transition game of Henning sucked the Thunderbirds out of an early two-three defensive zone and the top-seeded Hornets chose to run rather than set up the offense in a blistering start.
“Our big thing is we have got to get up and go and when teams do get us into the half-court, in the past, we’ve worked on shooting a lot and we just pulled them out of it,” said Wallevand.
The Thunderbirds battled to keep the deficit in single digits. Jayden Heisler hit a three-point basket at the midway point of the half to close to an 18-11 Henning lead.
Back-to-back scoring trips by Parker Syverson minutes later got Mahnomen-Waubun to within five points at 21-16, but the Thunderbirds would get no closer.
Henning finished the half with a flurry of offense polishing off a 25-9 run with a Brandon Trana putback at the halftime horn for all the momentum and a commanding 46-25 advantage on the scoreboard.
The senior guard tandem of Sam Fisher and Wallevand combined for 25 of the Hornets' points to match the entire Thunderbird effort for the half. Fisher led all scorers at the break with 14 points.
Henning left little to the imagination in the second half quickly building a 30-point lead and beginning running time on the clock up 35 points on Adam Lange’s only basket of the game midway through the half.
The Thunderbirds were in foul trouble and lost Heisler three minutes into the second half with his fifth foul and Jon Starkey played most of the half with four fouls.
Treston Spalla picked up his third foul with a physical hack that stunned Wallevand who remained in the game and promptly drained a three-pointer in retaliation as the Hornets ran away with the victory.
Sam Fisher led all scorers with 19 points. Wallevand added 17 and Isaac Fisher scored a dozen. Treston Spalla paced the Thunderbirds with 14 points.
In the south subsection, No. 1 Parkers Prairie defeated No. 2 Ortonville 72-56 at the University of Minnesota-Morris. The Panthers are the only team to hand Henning (27-1) a loss this season winning in overtime in the final game of the regular season.
“I wouldn’t have wanted to play anyone else,” Wallevand said.
Mahnomen-Waubun ends the season with a record of 19-9.
M-W 25 27 - 52
HEN 46 36 - 82
M-W - Treston Spalla 14, Parker Syverson 11, Jon Starkey 8, Jayden Heisler 5, Payton Keezer 4, Doug McArthur 3, Tanner Pazdernik 3, Chandler Guinn 2, Buster Walker 2.
HEN - Sam Fisher 19, Blake Wallevand 17, Isaac Fisher 12, Brandon Trana 7, Parker Fraki 7, Jacob Bjorklund 5, Blaine Wallevand 5, Lee Bjorklund 3, Luke Bjorklund 2, Dylan Trana 2, Adam Lange 2, Joe Angel 1.