Girls basketball playoff preview for Carlton County teamsSportwriter Tyler Korby takes an in depth look at the playoff-play-in game Tuesday between the Carlton Bulldogs and the Fond du Lac Ojibwe Tuesday night, followed by highlights from other area girls teams.
By: Tyler Korby, Pine Journal
CARLTON – Knowing her high school girls basketball career is on a short leash, Lindsey Dahl-Holm is giving it her all in the playoffs. The Carlton senior understands that one loss in March will close the books for good.
“We just have to play every game like it’s our last, because really, it could be,” Dahl-Holm said. “I want to work as hard as I can. Here in the playoffs, I don’t want to come off the floor unless I’m physically too tired to play.”
Also a cross country and track star, Dahl-Holm rarely gets tired, and the speedster recently helped lead the Bulldogs to a 73-11 throttling of Fond du Lac Ojibwe Tuesday night in a Section 7A opening round play-in game in Carlton.
Carlton (9-14) raced to a 54-7 halftime advantage and never looked back.
Dahl-Holm, a 5-foot-8 center, scored 13 points for the Bulldogs, while junior forward Clarissa Nelson netted a game-best 24 points in the first half as 10 Carlton players scored.
“We seem to play well in the playoffs,” said Carlton Coach Lisa Johnson. “The girls know that everything is on the line. Tonight, I thought we came ready to play and came out hard. They didn’t want to be done playing.”
FDL (4-23) closed its season with the defeat, as the young Ogichidaa got five points from senior Francene LaDeaux, along with four from eighth-grader Janessa Martineau and two more from freshman Alissa Bosto.
“These girls are good athletes, but they’re just young and inexperienced,” said FDL Coach Stacie Marsolek. “This is a young team but playing varsity they have gotten experience above and beyond their years.”
Opposite the youthful Ogichidaa, the Bulldogs have been led by upperclassmen this year. In wins over FDL and Wrenshall, Johnson said her team has bettered its defense, limited turnovers and reduced foul trouble.
Next up in Thursday’s second round, Carlton will face top-seeded Cook County in game set for 7 p.m. in Esko. Johnson said her girls aren’t intimidated.
“They’re not afraid,” Johnson said. “We played with them pretty well up there this season. We’re excited about it and will definitely be playing to win it.”
“I couldn’t care less who we play in the playoffs,” Dahl-Holm added. “I know that if we play like we can, I have complete confidence that we can go far.”
And just maybe make the short leash on her career a little longer.
Barnum (21-5) closed its regular season last Thursday by drubbing Polar League neighbor Moose Lake-Willow River 66-29 at home. Earning a bye as one of the top seeds in this year’s Section 7A playoffs, the Bombers will first face either Silver Bay or Wrenshall, and likely move to play the winner of Floodwood and South Ridge in Saturday’s quarterfinals, set for 2:45 p.m. at Duluth Denfeld.
Cloquet (7-18) concluded its regular season schedule on a five-game losing streak, with their latest loss against Lake Superior Conference foe Proctor 45-42 last Thursday at home. The seventh-seeded Lumberjacks open the Section 7AAA playoffs at Grand Rapids at 7 p.m. Thursday. An upset would place Cloquet in Friday’s semifinals at North Branch or Duluth Denfeld at 7 p.m.
Cromwell-Wright (11-13) lost its last regular season engagement at state-ranked Polar League power Esko 52-29 last Thursday. The sixth-seeded Cardinals open the Section 7A playoffs Thursday against league foe McGregor in Esko. A win would place Cromwell-Wright in Saturday’s quarterfinals at Duluth Denfeld against Cook County or Carlton at 6 p.m.
Esko (23-3) is currently ranked fourth in the Class AA polls and – although closing their regular season with 48-35 loss at Duluth East Saturday – the Eskomos enter the upcoming Section 7AA playoffs as one of the favorites. Top-seeded Esko opens with Duluth Marshall at home, while the quarterfinals would be against either Virginia or Two Harbors Saturday at 7:45 p.m. at UMD. A potential semifinal engagement would also happen at UMD Tuesday at 7:45 p.m.
Moose Lake-Willow River (17-9) finished its regular season with losses to Pine City and Polar League rival Barnum 66-29 last Thursday on the road. The third-seeded Rebels get their chance at revenge against the Dragons in the opening round of the Section 7AA playoffs, while a potential quarterfinal match could feature Mora or Milaca Saturday at 6 p.m. at UMD.
South Ridge (12-12) capped off their regular season on a high note, slipping past Floodwood and shellacking Duluth Denfeld. The fifth-seeded Panthers will again tango with the Polar Bears in their first Section 7A playoff game, where a win could eventually put South Ridge in a quarterfinal clash with Barnum at Duluth Denfeld at 2:45 p.m.
Wrenshall (3-19) put a close to their regular season schedule with 68-59 Brown Jug game loss to longtime Polar League rival Carlton last Thursday on the road. The ninth-seeded Wrens’ opening round Section 7A play-in game with Silver Bay was postponed due to weather Tuesday. A win over the Mariners would advance the Wrens to Thursday against mighty Barnum at 7:45 p.m. in Proctor.
Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College (0-22) concluded their women’s basketball season winless. Battling injuries, transfers and low numbers, FDLTCC struggled and at times forfeited games down the stretch.