Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Irishdew
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Rebels' freshmen take state title with overtime victory



(Pictured left to right) Front row: Sam Dewey, Phillip Sheetz, Duane Broughton, and Landin Kurhajetz. Middle:Connor Welch, Caden Durkin, Zach Youngs. Back:Coach Paul Dewey, Chance Lunde, Ethan Burton, Dom Beaulieu, Logan Orvedahl and Coach Angie Orvedahl.

In April, Moose Lake Willow River's ninth grade boys' basketball team won Region 4 Pacesetter playoffs in Willow River. That win qualified the school's team to play for the state title. On Sunday, June 23, they competed against the other seven regional winners at the Maple Grove Middle School. The other region's representatives were Byron, Hutchison, Hawley, Deer River-Fond du Lac, Madelia, Brainerd, and St. Joseph-Waconia. All teams are school teams, not all-star teams, with players from several different schools.

This MLWR team has qualified for this tournament in prior years, but have not been able to pull off a championship victory. In the past, Owatonna, Brainerd, and Hutchinson beat them and eliminated them from the championship game. The tournament is for fourth through ninth grade, so this is the last year they could participate. They are the Minnesota State champions and will be competing in the Great Five-State Championship at the Target Center July 13-14 against the state winners from Wisconsin, Iowa, North Dakota, and South Dakota.

MLWR played a very talented St. Joseph-Waconia team in the first round of the tournament. They had very balanced scoring. Rebels led at half-time 25-16. Phillip Sheetz had 14, Logan Orvedahl 9, Duane Broughton 8, Landin Kurhajetz 7, and Sam Dewey 5. The Rebels won 43-37.

The Rebels faced Brainerd in the next round. They played the Brainerd Warriors last year and lost after four overtimes. They were ready to get this victory. The Rebels were 10 for 15 at the line. Sheetz, Dewey and Orvedahl made six threes. MLWR won the game 59-51.

In the championship game, they faced Byron, who had beaten Hutchinson by 15 and Hawley by 26 points to get to the championship. They had a big, tall team compared to the Rebels. Rebels' intense defense, without fouling, kept them in the game the whole way. This extra defensive effort made for a low-scoring game. At half-time, Rebels led 18-15. MLWR shot 24 free throws making 13. Byron was 4 for 6 from the line. Byron had a big, strong young man (#23) inside at the post. The Rebels could not stop him. He scored 25 of their 39 points.

At the end of regulation, the score was tied 35-35. The game went into two-minute overtime. Dewey shot up a high-arcing three from the corner, that was all net, to give the Rebels the OT lead. Byron had to foul to get the ball back. Broughton and Sheetz made three free throws to award the victory to MLWR 41-39. The crowd went wild.

MLWR will continue on to the Great Five-State Championship.


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