Girls basketball roundup: Rebels down BombersLast Monday evening, the Rebels defeated the Bombers 50-33 win over the Bombers in a Polar League clash in Barnum.
By: Tyler Korby, Pine Journal
BARNUM – Beginning their youth basketball careers as Moose Lake third-graders, cousins Shaelyn Halverson and Taylor Miller learned at a young age there is one opponent who means the most.
“Barnum,” Shaelyn Halverson said. “Me and Taylor always told each other that we were going to beat them our senior year.”
Monday evening, the Rebels did just that. Halverson scored a game-leading 14 points to help carry Moose Lake-Willow River to a 50-33 win over the Bombers in a Polar League clash in Barnum.
Faithful Rebels fans celebrated the historic victory loudly on their biggest rival’s home court, as some fans said it’s been too long to recall the last time ML-WR won in the storied series.
“This has been our goal forever,” Halverson said outside the locker room. “It’s exciting to come out here and beat them. We were jumping around, screaming and dancing. We finally did it.”
The Rebels (4-1) did a lot Monday, jumping to a 9-2 lead in the opening moments, using their full-court, diamond-and-one press to create eight Barnum turnovers in the game’s first 10 possessions.
The Bombers (2-3) bolted back to 11-10 behind four baskets inside from junior center Daron Mainville, but after a Barnum timeout, ML-WR answered with a 13-2 run to go up for good.
That spurt included free throws from Miller, buckets by Adri Jusczak and Holly Mattison, and seven points from Halverson, as the Rebels led 34-20 at halftime, never trailing once all evening.
“It’s a big win for us,” said first-year ML-WR Coach Joe Adamczak, highlighting Halverson and Miller as lone seniors. “I told them I wanted this one for them. It was time to turn the page.”
Adamczak, who assisted the Rebels for several years before taking over the helm, applied full-court pressure early and trapped from the timeline later, causing headaches for the hosts.
“I want to play an up-tempo game,” said Adamczak. “The whole point tonight was to press and make them turn the ball over.”
“Tonight we went faster than we can go right now,” said first-year Barnum Coach Katie Moench, who took over for the legendary retired Coach Randy Myhre and his 626 career wins. “Taking care of the basketball is something we’ve been stressing in practice.
“We know by the end of the year we have to be better than at the beginning – if we can do that, we’ll be happy,” Moench said. “You hate to lose to a rival, but we just have to keep improving.”
Mainville carried Barnum with eight points, all in the first half, as the 6-footer is the only veteran in a lineup without any seniors.
Jusczak is the Rebels’ top-scorer from a season ago, coming back to a balanced roster revolving around shooting and speed.
“We’ve been working hard for two years now and definitely wanted this one,” said Jusczak, who scored 10 points Monday. “It feels good to win against Barnum, but we have to move forward.”
In doing so, Miller and Halverson still won’t ever forget it.
“We’ve been together since third grade playing for her dad,” Miller said. “After the game, I just went over and hugged her.”
Carlton (1-2) won its season opener over Duluth Marshall, yet has since struggled, falling to both Chisholm and Two Harbors.
Cloquet (1-4) has dropped four of its first five contests this winter, including a difficult 51-40 defeat to visiting rival Grand Rapids Tuesday. The Lumberjacks’ lone win is over Two Harbors.
Cromwell-Wright (2-3) was creamed by second-ranked Mountain Iron-Buhl 84-32 Monday in Cromwell. The Cardinals, losers of two straight, have topped both Wrenshall and Northland.
Esko (4-1) fell to top-rated Hopkins in their opener, but has strung off four straight wins since. The fifth-ranked Eskomos have beaten Lakeville South, Grand Rapids, Eveleth-Gilbert and Silver Bay.
Fond du Lac Ojibwe (1-4) found its first win this year, cruising by visiting Lac Courte Oreilles 44-10 Tuesday in Cloquet. The victory broke the Ogichidaa’s four-game losing streak.
South Ridge (2-3) has been up and down thus far this season, recently falling to Northeast Range 78-43 Monday night in Culver.
Wrenshall (1-4) is young yet again, losing its first four opening games, before winning a 48-46 overtime thriller at home against Duluth Marshall Tuesday evening for the team’s first win.
FDLTCC (0-10) had its women’s program’s first-ever victory forfeited due to the use of an ineligible player in their former win over Itasca.