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Flu bug, Chisago Lakes are too much for ’Jacks

In a pivotal seeding matchup between two of the top seeds in Section 7AAA, the Chisago Lakes Wildcats knocked off the Cloquet Lumberjacks 73-63 Friday, Jan. 13. Chisago led by a 39-38 score at halftime and crept away to the 10-point win, which should move the Wildcats past the Lumberjacks in the QRF ratings which determine sectional seeding.

“The first half was really back and forth and it was a good battle with both teams playing about the same offensively,” said Cloquet coach Heather Young. “However, second half came, and we struggled to finish at the rim and free-throw line while they finished. That was the biggest difference. We seem to get good shots, but sometimes just can't finish them.”

The Lumberjacks also struggled to find a way to stop the Wildcat duo of Alethea Kluge and Anna Peters, who combined for 45 points with Kluge leading the way with 23 points. That pair of players helped Chisago overcome the loss of their leading scorer Carmen Backes. Cloquet also faced a tough situation with four players staying home because of illness and starting point guard Vanna Kelley trying to battle through flu symptoms during the game before finally having to sit out a large amount of the second half.

“Our team has been hit miserably with the flu this past week,” explained Young. “We had four girls at home, and one on the court playing, Vanna Kelley, who tried to stick it out. It's hard when your main point guard is not there and it does have an impact on us. However, we had players step up like Kate Owens and Jess Liang. It was nice to see. Vanna tried to battle through, but the flu was just too much. Our staff and players have all been affected by it. We have since sanitized everything!”

Allie Wojtysiak led four Cloquet players who were in double-digit scoring with 21 points. Kendra Kelley hit for 15 points, Carmen Foss added 14 points and Nicole Blatchford added 10 points for the ’Jacks while Vanna Kelley finished with three points before leaving the game.

“I have said this before, Allie is a solid all around player. She's been taking more shots lately, which we told her to (do) and it is paying off for her,” said Young. “Nicole Blatchford also is putting up some solid numbers which is always a help, but our team needs more than one person contributing. We have good numbers from Carmen Foss and Kendra Kelley, but we aren't going to win down the road or in our section with one or two girls contributing.”  

The loss drops the ’Jacks to 7-8 on the season, while the win improved Chisago Lakes to 7-5 on the season.

“We need to finish strong this last stretch of games and we need to finish at the rim, rebound and take care of the ball,” Young said. “Losing is going to happen here and there, but I believe, if we are playing our best basketball at the end, this group will compete with the best of them. They just might surprise some folks.”