Girls basketball playoff roundupCromwell-Wright, ML-WR Rebels, among others, finish season
By: Tyler Korby, Pine Journal
Sure, MaKayleigh Cahoon’s high school basketball career ended for good Saturday evening, but the Cromwell-Wright senior wasn’t dwelling on the negatives.
“I would say it was an extremely successful season,” said the Cardinals’ 5-foot-10 go-to center Tuesday morning before school. “We ran with some good teams and gave them a run for their money.”
That they did. Despite their season-ending 69-51 defeat against Cook County Saturday in the Section 7A quarterfinals at Duluth Denfeld, Cromwell-Wright Coach Terry Sawdey said it was the Cardinals’ (12-14) best playoff performance since 2005.
“The wheels fell off for us against Cook County, but I was so proud of these girls and the great team effort they put together all season,” Sawdey said. “It would have been great to pull off another upset, but we just couldn’t finish it out.”
Sawdey was referring to his sixth-seeded Cardinals’ 54-51 opening round win over Polar League arch rival McGregor last Thursday in Esko. The third-seeded Mercuries had previously swept the season series by single digits both times, including once in overtime.
“I’d take that win any day,” added Cahoon. “To take down our rivals the third time we played them and to move us forward was so exciting. I was so pumped.”
Speaking of rivals, Polar League foe Moose Lake-Willow River also closed its season Saturday evening in a 68-42 Section 7AA loss to Mora at the University of Minnesota Duluth.
Yet, like the Cards, the Rebels achieved a lot as well. Their 18 wins was the most in recent memory, while ML-WR Coach Andrew Miller noted hosting a first-round playoff game last Wednesday and defeating Pine City 59-51 was also a first for the program in some time.
“We did a lot of good things and took a step in right direction,” Miller said Tuesday. “We ran into a good team in Mora on Saturday, but we still achieved our goal.”
Senior Olivia Bennett explained the goal was to play in Saturday’s quarterfinals at UMD. After ML-WR (18-10) did so Saturday, Bennett said that accomplishment was a memorable one.
“That made my senior season,” said the 5-foot-9 forward before catching an airplane Tuesday morning. “We really came a long way this year and made some big steps. We accomplished a lot.
“Sure, [Mora] wasn’t our best game, but I think we brought our program a long way,” Bennett continued. “People now know what Moose Lake-Willow River is all about. I think we did awesome.”
In other Polar League action, Carlton (9-15) and Wrenshall (4-20) both won postseason games, as the Bulldogs topped Fond du Lac Ojibwe, before falling to Cook County last Thursday in Esko. The Wrens, meanwhile, bested Silver Bay in an exciting win that came before their defeat by top-seeded Barnum last Thursday at Proctor.
Fond du Lac Ojibwe (4-23) and Cloquet (7-19) both went winless in the playoffs, as the Ogichidaa fell at Carlton last Tuesday, while the Lumberjacks fell at Grand Rapids to wrap up their schedule.