By PATRICK SLACK
Several story lines were in place entering the Upsala boys basketball team’s home game against Browerville, Friday.
Browerville eliminated Upsala in last season’s sub-section finals, after also sweeping a pair of regular season meetings.
Both squads entered this year’s match-up with undefeated records, ranked in the top 10 in the state, with early season conference and section positioning on the line.
When the game tipped off, though, it turned out to be a glaring mismatch.
Upsala’s relentless quick-strike attack blitzed Browerville throughout the first half en route to a 48-24 halftime lead before the Cardinals eased to an 85-59 win.
Junior Christian Pekarek led five Cardinals in double figures with 20 points, his third game in a row with at least 20.
Senior Avery Smieja dominated inside with 14 points, nine rebounds and six blocks, seniors Eric Frieler and Nick Frieler each scored 11 points and junior Dylan Zimmerman recorded 10 points, five rebounds and five assists.
Seniors Matt Abeler (8), Garrett Wolf (7) and Andy Nelson (2) and sophomore Jeffrey Halverson (2) also scored.
Despite how last season ended, for the Cardinals it was just another win, their fifth in a row to open the season.
“Last season’s results don’t really have much to do with what we focus on this season,” Upsala head coach Vern Capelle said. “I think any extra significance put on last Friday’s game was done so more by the fans and not the players and coaches.”
“It was only our fifth game and Browerville’s seventh, so it is really too early to place a lot of significance on one game,” he said.
Upsala and Browerville will meet up again at Browerville, Feb. 8, with the possibility of another postseason meeting looming in March.
“As for the next time, we will need to do the same things we did in this game,” Capelle said. “Play good defense, control tempo and take advantage of our depth.”
Upsala returns to action at the Little Falls holiday tournament, opening against Pequot Lakes, Friday at 6 p.m.
Upsala 85, Browerville 59
Browerville 24 35 – 59
Upsala 48 37 – 85
Upsala—Christian Pekarek, 20 (4 rebounds); Avery Smieja, 14 (9 rebounds, 6 blocks); Eric Frieler, 11; Nick Frieler, 11; Dylan Zimmerman, 10 (5 rebounds, 5 assists); Matt Abeler, 8; Garrett Wolf, 7; Jeffrey Halverson, 2; Andy Nelson, 2.