Posted On: 02/7/18 9:55 AM
Coming into this season, the Verndale Pirates had high expectations as they were coming off a season in which they had won a couple games in the Section playoffs, lost by 4 in the Section Final, and returned a roster stocked with juniors and seniors.
They enter tomorrow’s conference matchup at Bertha-Hewitt with a 6-11 record on the season and a conference record just below the .500 mark. Over the course of the final eight regular season games, they will be looking to right the ship and get hot in time for playoffs, and there is one player in particular that they will be looking to, senior guard Owen Korfe.
Korfe, a 5’10” combo-guard, is one of the leading scorers in the conference, and he currently leads the Pirates with 16.7 PPG. In addition, he is averaging 5.1 REB, 2.3 STL, and 1.4 AST while shooting 51% from two and 33% from deep.
“Our season has started out a little rough with a few losses by 5 points or less, and some teams we should have beaten easily” says Korfe. The remaining games on their schedule are all either conference or section games, and they will be a good measuring stick for where they are and where they will go come playoffs. Head coach Greg Johnson says “I see us being competitive in every game left on our schedule.”
Coach Johnson doesn’t get caught up in stats when asked what he expects out of his senior guard, but rather he says that “We expect Owen to be one of our leaders on the floor.” Korfe has provided the numbers that a leader should, but also tries to focus on the intangibles that great leaders bring to the table. When asked to describe the strengths in his game, Korfe says “I believe my strengths as a player are passing, scoring, communicating, and [being] a hard worker on the floor.”
Johnson described his senior leader as a “Mentally tough player who can score in the lane as well as from the 3-point line.” That mental toughness and versatile scoring ability was on display when I watched Korfe earlier this season against Menahga.
The Braves had built a sizeable lead in the second half when Korfe single-handedly brought the Pirates back into the game with a barrage of threes to go along with a number of knifing drives in the lane that either ended in layups or at the free throw line. Verndale fell short of coming all the way back as they lost 62-60, but the leadership, toughness, and scoring ability displayed by Korfe was undeniable as he finished with 24 points on the night.
Korfe’s fiery competitiveness is more often than not a strength, but he recognizes that it is something that he needs to harness for the positive, saying “I have been trying to cool down a bit when needed.”
He has not yet made any decisions for college next year, but has hopes of playing somewhere collegiately. He is keeping his decision-making process simple, saying “I was going to wait and see what college offers I get this year and I would decide from there.”
When playoffs roll around, teams with solid guard play and senior leadership tend to be formidable opponents. The Verndale Pirates possess both, and could prove to be a tough out in Section 5A. If they end up making a run in the playoffs, I can guarantee that a big reason why will be Owen Korfe.