There's an argument that could be had whether Brady Raph is a better putter or 3-point shooter.
The Pine River-Backus junior drops a lot of both.
In an 86-48 win over Swanville Jan. 25, Raph was 8-of-13 from 3-point and finished with 33 points. He followed that with five 3-pointers and 20 points in a 63-62 win over Kelliher/Northome Feb. 1.
"Three-point shooting has always been what I've been good at," Raph said. "Ever since I've been on the team since ninth grade, I've been known as a shooter. My brother, Hank, was also a shooter so he kind of taught me the form and everything that I needed."
Raph is hitting 45 percent of his 3s (61-of-137) and has scored 322 points for a 17.9 points-per-game average to help the Tigers to a 14-4 season so far.
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- Year: Junior
- School: Pine River-Backus
- Sport: Basketball
- Position: Guard
- Highlights: Scored 20 points against Kelliher/Northome and 33 against Swanville
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"Catching and shooting is probably the main thing, but I like to come off a screen, take the dribble and then shoot, too," Raph said.
PR-B head coach John Riewer has given the green light for Raph to shoot from anywhere. That amazes the coach himself.
"He's going to score," Riewer said. "He's starting to get the mentality of a scorer. I've seen him get hot. When he gets hot he'll shoot it from the volleyball lines and I just let him shoot it. I've had other coaches ask me, 'You let him shoot it from out there?' and I just say, 'Yeah, it's worth three points.'"
Raph's range has earned the respect of his coach.
"I know his passion is golf, but he is one of the best 3-point shooters that I've ever coached," Riewer said. "That's over a lot of years. Brady is right up there with some of the best shooters I've ever had."
Raph has made a name for himself on the golf links, but this is also his third year starting on the basketball team.
Last year, he was named to All-Northland Conference honorable mention as he finished with 394 points (14.1 points per game), 108 rebounds, 78 assists, 43 steals and six blocked shots. He shot 38 percent from the field, 37 percent from 3-point and 81 percent from the line.
"I started playing basketball when I was in second grade," Raph said. "It's kind of my main love for a sport. It teaches me about all the leadership qualities that I need and all of that."
Raph finished with 15 points, four rebounds and four assists in a 56-45 loss to Nevis Feb. 4. He's averaging 4.9 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 2.3 steals per game.
"His skill set is shooting," Riewer said. "He needs to score for us to win. He usually does. The 3-point shoot really changes the game. His potential is unlimited offensively. It just depends on how much time and effort he wants to put into it.
"He's more of a catch and shoot guy, but he's capable of shooting off the dribble. He's a very good passer and a very good rebounder. He's one of our top rebounders and his shooting percentages are unbelievable."
Raph opened the season with back-to-back 14 rebound games. He collected six assists in the Tigers' 62-59 loss to Cass Lake-Bena Jan. 15. Riewer said despite the loss, it was the Tigers' best-played game of the season.
"We just have to know that in order to win games we can't be selfish," Raph said. "It can't be one-on-one all the time. We need to pass and cut and set screens for each other.
"I like to really move the ball and get moving. We like to do a lot of screen and roll with our big guy Nate Wosmek. If I attack off the screen and get doubled in the lane, that's a good opportunity for (Torry) Hirschey or (Louis) Bueckers to get open and hit a 3."
Raph, Bueckers and Hirschey are all averaging double figures in points for the Tigers. That balance has PR-B feeling good about its chances come section playoffs. Raph's goal entering the season was for the Tigers to get to 18 wins. The No. 20 is in sight, however.
"We're feeling good and we just know that if we work together as a team and play our best game, we can play with anybody in the state," Raph said. "If Bueckers, Howard and I are hitting our 3s than that really opens things up and allows the spacing on the floor. Then Torry and Nate Wosmek can get inside and succeed in there. Then if we're getting stops on defense it can be special.
"Now we have the opportunity to get 20 wins, which would be amazing."
Other notable performances
Basketball: Jordan Schommer, Pequot Lakes, finished with 23 points against Crosby-Ironton.
Cooper Folkestad, Wadena-Deer Creek, finished with 21 points and seven rebounds against Pelican Rapids.
Hockey: Lleyten Pettit, Wadena-Deer Creek, finished with two goals and an assist against Breckenridge/Wahpeton.
Shane Donovan, Northern Lakes, finished with three goals and an assist against Sauk Rapids.
Wrestling: Adam Christopher, Nate Williams and Tyler Eigenheer, Crosby-Ironton, won individual championships at the Walker-Hackensack-Akeley Tournament.
Blayne Drumpprope and Owen Bjerga, Staples-Motley, won individual championships at the Walker-Hackensack-Akeley Tournament.
Connor Tulenchik, Pequot Lakes/Pine River-Backus, finished 3-0 and secured his 75th career win at the Road Crew Quad.