The Pierz Pioneers went on an 11-2 run at the end of the first half of the championship game of the Quarterbacks tourney to defeat Aitkin, 55-47. The game was a close battle for the first 16 minutes of the half with the score knotted at 15. Hunter Nissen and Kade Hopperstad put the Gobblers up 5-2 in the early going. Aitkin trailed 13-10 before Hopperstad’s trey retied the score. A Joe Cumming’s basket made the score 15 all, but the Pioneers took the visitors to the locker room with a 26-17 lead.
A deuce by Uketegbe and treys by Hopperstad and Nissen to open the second half cut the Pioneer margin to 30-27. However, a Pioneer spurt gave the visitors a 10-point lead with five minutes left in the game. But once again, the Gobblers answered with a Nissen bomb and two-pointers by Cummings and Owen Hagen. The score was 46-42 Pierz at the 2:08 mark but the Gobblers could get no closer.
Nissen finished with 23 points; Hopperstad 10; Cummings 6; Ukutegbe 4; while Gabrio and Hagen had two points each.
“Pierz is a good team; they’ve been scoring in the 80s and we held them to 55,” said coach Kerry Hopperstad. “We proved we can play with top level teams. Beating a team like Pierz would be a significant win for our program, and that is our goal for 2020. Our offense never got on tract, but our defense gave us a chance to win.”
Pierz 26 29 – 55
Aitkin 17 30 – 47
GOBBLERS ROLL IN TOURNEY OPENER
Kade Hopperstad and Manni Ukutegbe scored the first 10 points of the Aitkin Quarterbacks Holiday tournament opener, Dec. 27. Hopperstad knocked down a pair of three-point baskets and Ukutegbe banked a pair off the glass as Aitkin rolled to a 77-46 win over Foley.
Ukutegbe followed with a free throw and another deuce for a 13-2 Aitkin lead en route to a 32-21 half time lead.
The Gobblers outscored the Falcons 45-25 as coach Kerry Hopperstad was able to clear his bench, allowing younger players valuable experience.
Hopperstad finished with a season high 23 points; Ukutegbe added 15; Hunter Nissen 13; Owen Hagen and Joe Cummings 6 each; James Much 5; while Logan Gabrio, Cody Trotter, and Zack MacDonald, had 3 points apiece.
“I liked the consistency of our defense,” said coach Kerry Hopperstad. “Our help defense kept them from getting any real offensive threat going. When Kade, Manni and Hunter get it going, we are hard to stop.”
Foley 21 25 – 46
Aitkin 32 45 – 77
JV SPLITS TOURNEY ACTION
The junior varsity lost to Foley in the first game of the tourney before defeating Pierz in the finale’.
Gus Sanford scored 21 points in the 65-53 loss to Foley. Zack MacDonald added 10; Cody Trotter 9; Austin Price 6; Alex Palm 5, and James Much 2.
In the 41-35 win over Pierz, Zack MacDonald tallied 12 points; Gus Sanford 9; Cody Trotter 5; Austin Price, James Much and Micah Lane 4 each, and Austin Price 3.