GIRL'S BASKETBALL ROUNDUP: Fossen's field goal lifts 'Jacks over Esko
ESKO—Anna Fossen played less than half of last week’s girls basketball game against Esko and the Cloquet sophomore guard only made one of her attempted four shots.
For the Lumberjacks, though, her lone basket was biggest.
Cloquet centered on their second-half comeback, and Fossen’s field goal beside the basket with 1:11 remaining proved to be the winner in the Lumberjacks’ 42-40 upset of the neighboring Eskomos last Friday evening in Esko.
Trailing 40-39, Cloquet (11-5) created an inbounds play for the game’s leading scorer, 6-foot-1 center Kassidy Steen, but when Steen wasn’t open, Jaiden Cofield found Fossen for her only two points when she banked the ball in off the left-side glass.
“Honestly, I don’t remember it,” said a thrilled Fossen outside of a rowdy Cloquet locker room afterward. “It was a nice pass from Jaiden. It feels very good — just amazing.”
Teammate Sammy Zeadow sank the first of her two free throws with 1.8 seconds left, while after an Esko timeout, Fossen knocked down the game’s final pass before the buzzer.
For Coach Jeff Ojanen, it was the first win for his Lumberjacks over their nearby foes in his six years coaching at Cloquet.
“It’s nice to finally be on top,” said Ojanen of his team that snapped Esko’s former 14-game, 52-day winning streak. “It’s always fun to win the game between crosstown rivals. In a game like this, we’ll take it any way that we can get it.”
“We had to grind it out,” said Steen, who had 16 points, followed by Cofield’s 11.
Steen, who scored her team’s opening nine points in the first 12 minutes, later helped grind Esko (14-3) down, holding the hosts scoreless for the final five-plus minutes of the night.
“I don’t know how many we missed close to the rim, credit Cloquet,” said Esko Coach Scott Antonutti, highlighting a Lumberjacks defense that didn’t allow a hoop after freshman Ava Gonsorowski’s jumper with 5:54 to go.
“We had plenty of opportunities the whole game,” said Gonsorowski, who led the Eskomos with 15 points, of a contest with many near-basket misfires for both teams. “Those are shots you have to make, but we just have to continue looking forward. It’s important to stay positive.”
Antonutti is optimistic, noting his Eskomos could again be a Section 7AA finalist.
Cloquet, meanwhile, is sneaking up in Section 7AAA and could potentially pose a threat to any opponents come March.
Especially if Fossen finds the hoop more frequently.
“I love it,” said Steen, who has played with her classmate and good friend since kindergarten. “Those were big points.”
Barnum (11-6) beat Polar League foe Floodwood last Thursday, but the Bombers never stuck with North Woods, Class A’s seventh-ranked team, in a lopsided 65-29 home loss Monday.
Carlton (3-11) carded a 56-44 Polar League victory over visiting Silver Bay last Friday, as the Bulldogs broke back-to-back losses and added to a pair of wins over Wrenshall.
Cromwell-Wright (9-6) whipped Polar League rival Floodwood 94-72 Monday at home, as the Cardinals — in their highest-scoring game of the season — celebrated senior Allie Cahoon’s 1,000th career point milestone.
Fond du Lac Ojibwe (6-2) overpowered visiting Silver Bay 65-38 Monday in Cloquet, as the Ogichidaa marked back-to-back wins just three days after burying Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig School 110-34 in a game where Dez LaPointe set the small tribal school’s scoring record with 57 points.
Moose Lake-Willow River (14-3) rolled by Hinckley-Finlayson 64-37 Monday in Willow River, as the Rebels — winners of 10 of their past 11 games — saw junior Adri Jusczak eclipse 1,000 career points.
South Ridge (9-7) ripped past Nashwauk-Keewatin 56-34 Monday, as the visiting Panthers produced their fourth win within their previous five attempts.
Wrenshall (1-15) was waxed by Polar League host Esko 64-9 last Thursday, as the one-win Wrens — losers of 10 consecutive games — didn’t score at all in the second half.
FDLTCC (5-12) found back-to-back defeats to Minnesota College Athletic Conference host Hibbing 62-57 Saturday, several days after the Thunder — who returned to the court Wednesday as the Pine Journal went to press — lost at Itasca 70-49 in Grand Rapids.