Two top scorers help make UWRF basketball championship contender
It’s no secret that the UW-River Falls men’s basketball team has been on a tear this season. A major key to its success has been the play of the team’s two most consistent scorers, Alex Herink and Garret Pearson.
The two players took a similar path prior to joining the Falcons program. They both were standout high school basketball players and then each played at a different college before transferring to UWRF.
Pearson is a native of Rush City, Minnesota, and attended the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth before coming to River Falls for his sophomore season.
Herink’s hometown is nearby Hudson, and he played two seasons for Div. II Minnesota State-Mankato the last two years. This year is his first year as a member of the men’s basketball team at River Falls.
Both of them said that transferring helped them in some way. However, Herink said that he wasn’t sure that he still wanted to play basketball when he transferred to UWRF, but that changed quickly.
“Once I got to know Coach (Jeff Berkhof) and some of the guys, I knew it was a great team atmosphere,” Herink said.
Herink also said that being so close to home was a big factor in the decision to play at UWRF along with having another player from the area transfer in. Clay Seifert from Prescott is in his first year with the Falcons after playing one season at Bemidji State University.
Pearson didn’t have the luxury of transferring in with any other players, but also knew the team was oriented toward what he wanted in a program.
The adjustment process is made a little easier when you’re the kind of scorers that both Herink and Pearson are once they step on the floor. Both of them are averaging double figures this season, Herink at 16.7 points per game and Pearson with 13.2.
The two players both said that there isn’t a rivalry between them, but they do get after each other sometimes.
“In practice there’s a lot of competitiveness between us,” Pearson said. They agreed that it was good for everyone else to follow that example and want to work every day to get better.
The two don’t keep track of who scores more points in any given game, but they are aware of the box scores and their individual performances.
The exceptional play of their dynamic duo has vaulted the Falcons into sole possession of first place in the current WIAC standings and has the team on the fast track to an appearance in the NCAA tournament. Herink and Pearson both have high expectations for the remainder of the season.
“I think with the group of guys we have, we’re national championship contenders right now,” Pearson said.
The Falcons have a great shot at contending at the end of the season. Their last WIAC conference championship was in 2012.
Both players know what they have to do down the stretch to make it happen.
“Just being a factor every night. Whether it’s scoring or rebounding or finding an open guy,” Herink said.
Pearson is a senior and one of three captains on this year’s squad.
“I have to provide leadership and use my experience to help everyone,” Pearson said.
However success is defined, there’s no doubting that Herink and Pearson have helped the Falcons achieve it this season.