The Cloquet-Esko-Carlton boys' tennis team, bereft of practice opportunities due to the snow, made its season debut anyway in the covered environment of Virginia's indoor tennis center Tuesday, April 10. CEC lost 4-3 to Eveleth-Gilbert, but two of the lost matches went to three sets. Peter Tomhave earned the No. 1 singles spot and won the first set against the Golden Bears' Rob Licari by 7-5 before dropping the second and third sets by 6-3, 6-1.
The Wilderness (31-21-3) are in a flat-footed tie for second place in the Central Division with the Austin Bruins heading into this weekend's series with last-place Brookings (23-28-2) at Northwoods Credit Union Arena. However, the Bruins still have a game in hand, with a road matchup with the Minnesota Magicians before their season-ending series with fifth-place Bismarck.
"Three courts are clear," fourth-year coach Derek Johnson said with a laugh. "The other has a lot left. We don't want to be using shovels. That's not what I want, but it needs to get done."
After a season that could only be described as magnificent, the Wrenshall Wrens saw their state tournament hopes dashed Thursday, March 15, during the Section 7A semifinals in Hibbing.
Cromwell-Wright wasn't supposed to have the boys basketball season it had.
Esko's boys basketball team is peaking at the right time, and their coach ought to know. Mike Devney, the veteran coach who is retiring at the end of this season, says his team (25-4) is playing very well after the 62-44 win Tuesday, March 13, over Proctor, setting up the Friday, March 16, section final against Virginia (24-5). "We played really well," Devney said. "We played some good basketball. The kids were intense and I have to give Proctor a lot of credit for being the team they are to bring that out of our kids."
The top-seeded Esko Eskomos were without towering center Adam Trapp, but still won their Section 7AA first-round playoff game Tuesday, March 6. The Eskomos (23-4) defeated eighth-seed Pierz (4-23) by 64-50 at Esko. Coach Mike Devney suggested that discretion was the better part of valor in not playing Trapp, who banged his knee on the floor in a late-season game at Two Harbors. "He got undercut and slammed his knee into the wood, and he had a pretty deep bone bruise," Devney said. "He dressed for Pierz and we warmed him up, but decided not to play him."
The Minnesota Wilderness took a big step toward securing a North American Hockey League playoff position in recent weeks, with a March 2-3 home split against Bismarck putting the team in third place, three points ahead of the Bobcats with 10 games to play.
There's a tug of war going on in communities all over the nation, and, like politics, it never seems to end. One season ends. The next begins. But in smaller communities, many of the players stay the same. Except when they don't. And there's the rub. Allow me to explain. Carlton County schools, and many in northeastern Minnesota for that matter, are dependent on two- and three-sport athletes to put teams on their fields of play. Enrollment isn't at the point where schools can have specialists. I'll give you an example.
The Hilltoppers, who were playing at Cloquet in the quarterfinals for the third consecutive year, raced off to a 3-0 first period lead and led 6-2 after two, with Aaron Moore and Landon Langenbrunner scoring the goals. The third period, though, belonged to the home team, which outshot Marshall 18-2 in the session and got goals from Branden Matteen and Langenbrunner, but could draw no closer.