Boys Basketball Roundup for Carlton CountyA short story about how Carlton is winning (thanks to improved ball-handling) plus roundups of other area teams.
By: Tyler Korby, Pine Journal
After their third win in five days, it’d be safe to say the Carlton boys basketball team is one of the hottest teams around lately. Erik Adams would like to think their locker room is one of the rowdiest, too.
“Definitely,” said the 6-foot-2, 180-pound junior guard following the Bulldogs’ 65-40 drubbing of Polar League foe Two Harbors Tuesday night in Carlton. “Our locker is intense – even before games now.”
Adams scored a team-leading 19 points, juniors Lane Empson added 17 and Kyle Gunderson collected 10 to go with his 11 rebounds to guide Carlton to a big second-half victory over the Agates. Rather than scoring, the streaking Bulldogs have won with ball-control lately.
“We’re limiting the turnovers,” said Gunderson. “Everything seems to be clicking. It feels good to get back on the winning side of things.”
This winter has been tough for Carlton (7-14). At one point winning just two games in two months, the Bulldogs have recently surged by limiting turnovers, valuing their possessions and simply playing better basketball. Carlton also beat East Central Monday and Floodwood last Friday night.
“I don’t want to take anything away from my kids because they have worked so hard, but we haven’t exactly beaten Esko, Barnum and Moose Lake,” first-year Carlton Coach Adam Bailey said. “We’re learning how to win. Tonight we didn’t play well in the first, but ended up closing [Two Harbors] out in the second.”
The Bulldogs – normally accustomed to 30-plus turnovers a night – have given up no more than 15 in their three latest victories, including nine against the Agates and Polar Bears.
Bailey was quick to say their 60-39 win at Floodwood was impressive.
“We took it to them,” he said. “I think we led by 18 at halftime, and at one point were up by 27. We’re playing better basketball.”
“This is probably the best we have played in the past couple years,” said Gunderson, the 6-foot-2, 180-pound forward following his double-double Tuesday. “We know we have to continue to work hard and not get too overconfident, but it feels good. I think we’re all pretty jacked up right now.”
Playing at conference rival Wrenshall to close their regular season Friday, Bailey knows their opponent will be just as excited for
“It’s their homecoming and Wrenshall is going to be fired up,” said Bailey, who earned his first-ever coaching win against the Wrens when the Bulldogs claimed the Brown Jug back in their
season-opener Dec. 2. “It’s a big one for us. But right now, my boys are playing well enough that anything can happen.”
Barnum (17-5) dropped consecutive games for the first time this winter, suffering a 73-71 overtime loss to Pillager last Monday and falling 70-65 at Polar League rival Esko Friday night. Four players were in double figures in the tight defeat, as Jake Naslund and Rodney Mullen Jr. led with 13 points each.
Cromwell-Wright (9-13) has looked much like Polar League rival Carlton lately, having strung off an impressive five straight wins. In their latest 76-61 win over visiting Floodwood Tuesday, four Cardinals were in double digits, led by Jake Ramberg and Austin Johnson with 16 and 14 points, respectively.
Cloquet (8-15) snapped their previous five-game slide with an entertaining 56-53 double-overtime victory over Lake Superior Conference nemesis Duluth Marshall Tuesday evening in Cloquet. Adam Laine led with 21 points, while Sean Ferrell and Dillon Johnson added 12 each.
Fond du Lac Ojibwe (10-11) has been solid lately, as the Ogichidaa have won three of their last four games. FDL’s lone loss in nearly three weeks came Saturday in a 77-69 defeat at Cass Lake-Bena. Kello Brown scored 22 points, while Lee St. John and Trevontae Brown had 19 and 17 each.
Moose Lake-Willow River (14-9)/ saw their recent three-game win streak stop at Class AA state-ranked Braham Tuesday night, when they fell 98-66. Yet, in their 70-49 whipping of Pine City Saturday, three Rebels were in double figures, led by Tony Adamczak’s 21 points.
South Ridge (12-8) has remained idle lately. The first-year Panthers haven’t played since their Feb. 14 loss at Ely. South Ridge has fallen in two straight, including a Feb. 13 defeat to Two Harbors in Culver.
Wrenshall (1-19) earned their first win over Greenway last week; however, they’ve since lost 57-56 at home against Hill City last Thursday and 59-38 at Polar League foe Cook County Friday. Pat Gustafson led the Wrens in both affairs, scoring 25 against the Hornets and 18 against the Vikings.
Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College (3-19) has dropped three consecutive games – Vermilion, Northland and on Saturday to Minnesota College Athletic Conference rival Itasca 79-64 in Grand Rapids. Carlos Holcey and Alton Dixon paced FDLTCC with 24 and 20 points, respectively, in defeat. The Thunder had their home finale against MCAC foe Hibbing Wednesday night as this edition of the Pine Journal went to press. Their season finale is Saturday at conference nemesis Rainy River in International Falls at 3 p.m.