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Bruggeman, Korf have helped the Vikings boys and girls basketball teams to solid records

PELICAN RAPIDS — Pelican Rapids boys basketball coach Doug Bruggeman knew he had something special in the palm of his hand with his son Ryan.

He knew it when Ryan stood in the palm of his hand.

“I read that Tiger Woods could stand in the palm of his dad’s hand and just balance there,” Doug Bruggeman said. “I put Ryan up there, and right when he was old enough to hold himself up, he could stand there in the palm of my hand. At that point, I knew he had good body coordination, and that’s one of the biggest things he’s gifted with in athletics.”

At barely 5-foot-6, Mackenzie Korf – point guard for the Pelican Rapids girls basketball team – wasn’t exactly handed anything at birth like incredible balance. She did, however, inherit a father who played basketball and a mother who was a gymnast at Pelican Rapids.

That, along with the work ethic to put up around 45,000 shots from April until November between her freshman and sophomore seasons, has turned Korf into the player she is. The sophomore is averaging 25 points, seven assists, six rebounds and five steals a game for the 13-1 Pelican Rapids team ranked No. 7 in Minnesota Class 2A.

Brian Korf, Mackenzie’s father and the Pelican Rapids girls basketball coach, knew when Mackenzie was in third grade she had the defensive skills. He could see the 141 steals – a Pelican Rapids record – her freshman year coming. He did not see her breaking the school record for points in a game twice, as she did this season with 41 points in the season opener and 39 later on.

“I didn’t see this coming,” Brian Korf said. “There wasn’t a day in the offseason where she wasn’t playing a game or shooting. She put in a lot of time and dedicated herself to her AAU team, and her high school team.”

Mackenzie had a pretty simple reason for playing nearly 100 basketball games in the offseason.

“It’s just so much fun being with the team,” Mackenzie Korf said. “As you win, it’s even more fun and to win you have to work hard. You got to have that motivation. We were gone a lot of weekends, but it was fun.”

Ryan Bruggeman has brought his balance from the palm of his father’s hand to the basketball court. He’s averaging 25.8 points, 8.4 rebounds and 7.6 assists a game in his senior season for a 10-4 Pelican Rapids team in the hunt for the Heart O’ Lakes Conference crown.

His game has gotten him offers from Minnesota State Moorhead, University of Minnesota-Duluth, Bemidji State, looks from other Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference teams, and an invite to walk on at North Dakota State. It also recently got him a 45-point game, which was four short of the school record.

“It’s really a good feeling that your work paid off and you live up to the support you got,” Ryan Bruggeman said.

Whereas Ryan Bruggeman is nearing the end of his high school road, Mackenzie Korf is at the beginning of her trail. The similarities between the two make it easy to see why both paths have success as the destination. Just like Korf, Bruggeman has lived in the gym ever since he was running around his dad’s practices for the Pelican Rapids girls basketball team when he was little.

“I want to come to the gym,” Ryan Bruggeman said. “I enjoy being in the gym. I want to practice. I never get sick of it.”

Ryan points to his older brother Casey – who is in the Concordia basketball program – as his reason for going back to the gym.

“I always had my older brother,” Ryan Bruggeman said. “He would always make sure I knew I was good, but he would always make sure I knew I could be better.”

Despite being a sophomore and already compiling more than 850 points, more than 300 rebounds and more than 300 assists, Mackenzie Korf has more trips to the gym planned.

“I got a long way to go,” Mackenzie Korf said.

Korf and the 13-1 Viking girls are scheduled to play at Perham (7-8) Tuesday night.

Chris Murphy

Chris Murphy is a sports reporter for the Forum. He's covered high school and college sports in Chicago, North Dakota and Minnesota since 2009 and, for some reason, has been given awards for doing so.

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