WADENA -- In volleyball Kerby Johnson was pounding opponents with a powerful spike, but during the basketball season the Wadena-Deer Creek junior was spiking opponents with a complete game.
Johnson, a post player for the 17-7 Wolverines, helped the girls' basketball team and head coach Becky Woessner earn their first Mid-State Conference title in more than three years.
"It was a lot of fun," Johnson said about the season. "It's the best season I've had so far. It makes me proud to be recognized as a good team. It was disappointing at the end but next year we should be really good."
Johnson, who earned all-conference honors as a sophomore, helped turn a young program in the right direction.
"It's good to have that younger talent," said Woessner. "Kerby works hard not only in the season but all summer long.
"She brings a leadership on the court. She's not a selfish player. We hope she becomes a little more so next year, though."
In the first round of the Section 8AA playoffs Thursday, Johnson scored 20 points to lead the Wolverines over the Staples-Motley Cardinals 60-48. That was W-DC's first playoff win in Woessner's three-year career. In the semifinals Saturday against Pelican Rapids, Johnson scored 19 points, grabbed four rebounds and blocked a shot in a 53-33 loss to Pelican Rapids.
"Kerby is one of those players who truly, in a college position, will be a forward or a shooting guard," said Woessner. "She likes it when she's out on the wing and can drive to the hoop.
"She can hit the three-pointer and she works down low. She has a great short jumper. She's really good with the right-handed jumper so now she's working on the left hand."
At 5-foot-10, Johnson would be a center on most teams. But with her athletic ability, Johnson isn't stationed in the paint. With a year left Woessner sees a lot of untapped potential and said that with the right college coach it might be scary what Johnson could accomplish.
Johnson is a two-year letterwinner for the volleyball team and this was her third year as a starting basketball player. She's a 300- and 100-meter hurdle competitor and a triple jumper for the W-DC track and field team plus she carries a 4.0 grade-point average and is a member of the choir.
"She's just one of those gifted kids," said Woessner. "She takes pride in what she does."
Johnson scored 474 points this season for a 19.8 points per game average. She also had 170 rebounds for a 7.1 average. She finished with 31 blocks, 34 steals and 44 assists. She played in every quarter for W-DC. She shot 42 percent from behind the arc, 45.4 percent from the field and 78.2 percent from the free throw line.
For Woessner and the Wolverines the exciting thing is she'll be back next year along with forward Marissa Browne, guard Sara Kneisl and guard Missy Speed, all juniors, and sophomore post Avery Buresh.
"I'm excited," Woessner said about next year. "It's hard to put this season in the books already but with four of the five starters back next year, we're going to be able to build on this season and keep adding to it."
With all of Johnson's accomplishments on the court and in the classroom, her behind-the-scenes action might help W-DC more.
"She's very active with younger players," Woessner said. "She has become a role model for these kids. She goes to open gym on the weekend and talks and works with the younger girls. That sets some precedent and goals. That's a plus to her character."
While growing up, Johnson looked up to W-DC graduate Rhonda Birch but was disappointed that the two never talked. So Johnson has really taken an active role with her underclassmen.
"It's very important to me," said Johnson. "They're the future of our team. Improving their game is going to help the future of our team. Having positive people in their life is important."
Other notable performances:
Basketball -- Pillager's Nacole Carlson scored 21 points in a season-ending 65-36 loss to Walker-Hackensack-Akeley.
Verndale's Kayla White finished with 20 points, eight assists and five steals in a win over New York Mills. White scored 17 points in a loss to Rothsay. Teammate Raya Kern finished with 21 points and 16 rebounds.
Aitkin's Jennifer Straughn reached the 1,000 point milestone with a 20-point performances in a 54-47 loss to Pequot Lakes.
Julie Redebaugh of Pequot Lakes scored 17 points in a 54-47 win over Aitkin in the opening round of the Section 7AA playoffs.
Sarah Laposky of Pine River-Backus scored 31 points to help the Tigers advance in the Section 7AA playoffs with a 63-36 win over Crosby-Ironton.
Pierz's Shiela Stegora scored 22 points and grabbed six rebounds in a 60-53 loss to Big Lake.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.