Girls Basketball Roundup...News about Wrenshall, Carlton and other area teamsBarnum (9-15) was blitzed by Polar League host Esko 63-21 last Thursday night for the Bombers’ third consecutive loss.
By: Tyler Korby, Pine Journal
CARLTON – Suffering a sprained right ankle just weeks ago, Clarissa Nelson played Monday night without wearing a wrap.
Later, the Carlton senior was the first to wrap her hands around the Little Brown Jug and hoist it high, one final time.
Over her four varsity seasons, Nelson has always had the jug on her side. On Monday evening, the forward’s 12 points helped pace the Bulldogs past longtime Polar League rival Wrenshall 67-28 before a sizeable crowd at the Carlton gymnasium.
“It’s been our biggest rivalry, forever,” Nelson said.
The jug, a long-lasting historic symbol of pride traveling between the pair of small neighboring communities for nearly 70 years, is only played for once a season, and only in girls and boys basketball.
In order to win it, either school must defeat the owner on their home floor, then the victor gets to display it for the entire year. Carlton has carried the jug for five years straight, winning all nine meetings between the schools since the Wrens last won in 2008.
“The jug means a lot to these girls – they want to win it and keep it at home,” said fourth-year Carlton Coach Lisa Johnson, unbeaten in her jug tenure. “This is a big game. It got physical. A lot of girls were flying around and bodies were just everywhere!”
Streaking Carlton (10-11) was everywhere in Monday’s first seven minutes, scoring the opening 13 points and tallying 20 of the beginning 21 before Wrenshall’s Delaney Kittel canned a three-pointer from the right corner for her team’s first field goal at 12:22.
That sent the youthful Wrens (2-20) on a gutsy 13-1 spurt to cut Carlton’s lead to eight, before Johnson took a timeout and watched her Bulldogs bury the half’s final 12 points – 10 on free-throws.
Ahead 34-14 at halftime, Carlton later won in running time.
“This one is always bigger, even compared to other schools’ rivalries,” said Carlton senior guard Brooke Camps, who scored a game-leading 21 points to go along with Nelson’s dozen and classmate Tori Zime’s 15. “It’s always fun to beat Wrenshall.”
Wrenshall finished the night with 32 of the game’s 50 total fouls. Carlton scored 31 of their points – three more than the Wrens’ total – at the free-throw line, where 80 shots were taken.
“That kind of deflated us,” said Wrenshall Coach Michelle Blanchard. “But these girls really have improved – and have gone the extra mile to be involved all year-round to get better. Regardless of the score, all of the girls love the game. We were a little deflated tonight, but they’ll come back ready to go. They always do.”
“We all really love this sport,” added Kittel, a freshman guard, who scored eight points to go with classmate Shana Laveau’s 11. “Yeah, it can get tough, but we’re young. We’re keeping our heads up, working hard and know that we can all do well in the future.”
Nelson doesn’t know the future of the jug, but relishes her past.
“Some years the score is close, other years not so much,” she said, “But even if there is a big difference, this still feels good.”
Barnum (9-15) was blitzed by Polar League host Esko 63-21 last Thursday night for the Bombers’ third consecutive loss.
Cloquet (13-12) ceased their three-game win streak when the host Lumberjacks lost to Duluth East 66-49 Tuesday.
Cromwell-Wright (13-10) wrapped up a 56-47 victory over visiting South Ridge Monday, snapping a previous pair of losses.
Esko (22-2) edged host Duluth Denfeld 58-42 Tuesday for their fourth straight win. The Eskomos, ranked third in Class AA, remain unbeaten in the Polar League and are atop the conference.
Fond du Lac Ojibwe (5-9) fell Tuesday evening at Wrenshall 74-48, for another young Ogichidaa defeat. The Wrens, meanwhile, snapped their former 16-game losing stretch.
Moose Lake-Willow River (17-8) revitalized their winning way with a 46-34 road victory past Pine City Saturday afternoon.
South Ridge (6-17) ran into a 56-47 loss at Cromwell-Wright Monday, marking their 11th defeat in their last 13 affairs.
FDLTCC (0-18) canceled the rest of their collegiate women’s basketball season. Struggling with injuries, illness and depth, the Thunder lost all 18 games, including six forfeitures.