Girls basketball roundup for Carlton County teamsBurcar scores her 1,000th point for Wrenshall and notes on other area girls teams.
By: Tyler Korby, Pine Journal
WRENSHALL – Taking jump shots underneath the basket at Wrenshall girls basketball practice Tuesday afternoon, senior Maria Burcar showcased the skills that made her a1,000-point scorer.
Only a small number of players have reached that milestone for the small community of Wrenshall. Burcar, a 6-foot-2 center, eclipsed the historic mark last Friday in the Wrens’ 54-34 victory over Polar League rival Silver Bay during the team’s final regular-season home game.
Burcar, a sizeable left-
hander inside the paint, first made a free throw before she later scored the historic bucket beneath the hoop around nine minutes into the game.
“I was so nervous,” Burcar said. “I must have missed five shots before then.”
“We were holding our breath for all nine minutes,” added third-year Wrenshall Coach Michelle Blanchard Tuesday afternoon between practice drills. “Maria is such a hard worker and so dedicated. She plays year-round and is a part of this basketball family. It was her accomplishment, but ours, too. It was very exciting for her.”
Needing only two points for the milestone entering the evening, Burcar said the game paused when she sank the easy basket. Soon after, she was congratulated by her coaches and teammates, took a photo, and received the game ball.
“I was crying,” said Burcar, who has been a part of the varsity program since the eighth-grade. “Growing up, I watched girls score their 1,000th point and I always made it my goal to do it, too. I always wanted to do it and be like them.”
Burcar closed the evening with 11 points in the win, giving her 1,009 for her career.
Coaches said she was well-deserving of the honor.
“When we first saw her, her shot was ugly, almost like a shotgun shot,” said assistant coach Sheri Nelson. “We’ve seen her grow a lot. She’s a great leader and one to always take time to help the younger kids, too.”
Burcar has been the foundation of the struggling program over recent years. Getting beat nightly, enduring winless seasons and even getting shutout once have made things tough, Wrenshall players and coaches agreed.
Yet, last Friday marked the Wrens’ second straight win this winter. Before their drubbing of the Mariners last week, Wrenshall (2-17) defeated Hill City 61-47 a week earlier on the road. It was their first win of the year. The Wrenshall boys team also won its first game of the season Monday night at home over visiting Greenway.
“I think when we beat Hill City, it gave us a new outlook,” said Blanchard. “Win or lose, we’re always going to be proud of these girls, but that one gave us some hope.”
Senior Natalie Peaney agreed.
“It was a great feeling to beat another school,” said the
5-foot-4 point guard, who led the Wrens with 17 points in their latest game against Silver Bay. “We’ve had good confidence all year. Now we just want to end the season the best we can. If we win that’s good, but we just want to work hard and try our best.”
“I’m excited for the playoffs,” Burcar said. “We’re hoping for another home game, but wherever we go, I think we can surprise a team that underestimates us.”
Once the season does close, Burcar and Peaney will be the lone ones to graduate.
“I’m not ready to be done playing yet,” Burcar said. “But it’s been a blast. I’ll never forget it. I’m definitely going to miss these ladies next year.”
And they will miss her jump shot.
Barnum (20-4) has won three straight contests, including eight of their last 10, as the Bombers recently trounced talented Hermantown 64-34 Monday on the road. Claire Rodgers scored 24 points to pace Barnum, which is set to host arch-rival Esko Thursday at 7:15 p.m. for the Polar League title.
Cloquet (7-14) has lost five of its last six games, as the
injury-plagued Lumberjacks fell to nemesis Grand Rapids 38-23 last Friday at home. Morgan Jensen and Kenzie Rathe each scored five points for the ’Jacks.
Esko (20-1) sits fourth in the Class AA state polls, as the Eskomos now have a dozen straight wins. In the latest home win over Duluth Denfeld 61-45 Monday, 6-foot-9 center Savanna Trapp scored 20 points, while Marisa Shady added 13. Esko will collide with fellow Polar League unbeaten Barnum Thursday night on the road in a must-see clash for the conference crown. Tipoff is set for 7:15 p.m.
Fond du Lac Ojibwe (4-19) recently earned their fourth win this season with a forfeit over Nay Ah Shing on Tuesday. Recently, the Ogichidaa fell to Red Lake and Silver Bay, both occurring last week.
Moose Lake-Willow River (16-7) has struggled offensively without leading-scorer Adri Jusczak, who is out with a knee injury. Although Jusczak played limited minutes last Thursday against Esko, the Rebels fell 66-26 to snap a previous three-game win streak. Shaelyn Halverson tallied eight points in the Polar League loss.
South Ridge (10-12) has dropped two straight home games, falling 63-39 last Saturday to Ely, as well as 56-45 Tuesday against Northeast Range. Kendra Dallmann scored 21 points in their latest loss in Culver, while Kourtney Karppinen collected 12 in defeat against the Timberwolves last weekend.
Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College (0-19) remains winless after a 56-46 loss to Minnesota College Athletic Conference foe Vermilion last Saturday in Cloquet. FDLTCC was back in MCAC action Wednesday night at Northland as this edition of the Pine Journal went to press. Saturday, the Thunder travel to Itasca at 3 p.m. Their home finale is Feb. 22 versus Hibbing and regular season finale is
Feb. 25 at Rainy River.