"We played our best game of the year," coach Archie Clark said. "But we had to feed the big players in the middle." Both Bender and Porter are 200-pound players who have authority in the air and are strong in the box. "Teams see those big forwards and have to figure out how to keep them away from goal," Clark said.
"We went to sleep mentally in the fourth set," Rebels coach Beckie Jackson said. "The first three sets we played well and showed we can hang with a good team like Cloquet. "But our fourth set was not very good." Jackson's struggles have been with the Rebels' defensive work.
Having played in eight straight Section 7AA finals through the years, Scott Antonutti's team was denied another appearance in the title game — and a return trip to state — in a 66-55 loss to Mesabi East on Wednesday, March 7.
Cloquet's girls' basketball team lost to the Hibbing Bluejackets in the Section 7AA quarterfinals Tuesday, Feb. 27.
One could argue that Cloquet running back Spencer Wehr was the luckiest player on the field during the Lumberjacks' 46-26 triumph over North Branch in the Section 7AAAA championship game. The physical senior running back piled up 221 rushing yards on 34 carries and scored seven touchdowns as the 'Jacks sewed up their fourth state tournament appearance in the last five years.
Participants then have another challenge. They’ll receive a map and need to bring a compass, which they must use to find the finish line, located somewhere west of the Pine Valley area.
"The kids showed up and we tore the cover off the ball," Klyve said. "Some games, we've hit the ball right at guys so pushing runs across the plate has been tough." The young Bombers have found this season to be a growing process. "We are a younger team in places, with some seniors who don't have a lot of varsity experience," Klyve said. "We've shown a ton of improvement and I like what I've seen." <
"We gave them a lot of baserunners," Esko coach Ben Haugen said. "But we survived it. I was happy to see us win on a day when we didn't necessarily have our best stuff." <
With a running team like Red Lake, Gronner knows defense in transition will be vital. "It's going to be huge," he said. "Against the really good teams that push the ball, we have struggled with transition defense at times. We have focused on that and hopefully it will be good for Thursday."
BOYS HOCKEY PLAYOFFS *** Despite a regular season where the team won only three games, the Moose Lake Area boys' hockey team can make a claim that about half the teams in the state can't make. They've won a playoff game, which is when the wins matter the most. Mike Knezevich's goal at 7:42 of the second overtime period lifted the Rebels (4-22-0) to a 5-4 win over Becker/Big Lake in a Section 5A play-in game at Princeton Ice Arena on Tuesday night.