If Charis Blacklock got to choose which opponent she faced each night she played basketball, there's a high probability the Moose Lake senior would pick Barnum.
Just like there's a high probability the forward for Moose Lake-Willow River will catch fire with her right-handed jumper.
"She's pretty much automatic from 15 feet," first-year ML-WR coach Padrick Judd said. "When she's on, she's pretty tough to stop."
Such has been the scene for Blacklock in both neighboring games with the Bombers this winter, with her latest rendition coming last week when she scored a game-high 20 points to propel the host Rebels to a 64-41 win Thursday, Feb. 14, over their biggest rivals.
Her contest-best effort on Valentine's Day added to an already sweet performance at Barnum on Dec. 6, when the 5-foot-10 post player produced 16 points in yet another ML-WR victory.
For a player who averages just nine points per evening, Blacklock's 36 in a pair of pivotal Polar League meetings meant a regular-season sweep of the Bombers - something the Rebels haven't done in over three decades, Judd told his team.
"It was really nice to hear that," Blacklock said.
Just like it's nice watching Blacklock bury shot after shot from her high-post position near the free-throw line extended.
Last week, much like in their first meeting, Blacklock was seemingly unconscious from the field. She also ranks second in school history in blocked shots, her 125 swats only behind Adri Jusczak's 188 from 2015. Blacklock's near-60 this season, or nearly three per game, ranks in the top 10 statewide.
And while defense is a prowess of hers, pull-up jumpers, floaters and attacking from the charity line are some of her favorite offensive moves, Blacklock said.
"A lot of people don't do it," she said. "It's nice to be able to hit shots from places teams aren't always defending."
Defending Blacklock is one thing, but slowing the Rebels (14-11) is another. Led by Judd, who ran track at NCAA Division I Mississippi State, ML-WR plays with pace and has plenty of options.
Freshman phenom Natalie Mikrot leads the scoring, averaging 15 points a night, as the skilled, red-headed guard is already nearing 1,000 career points. Sophomore Ella Rhoades (9 ppg) is also effective with Blacklock, while Meghan Granquist and Elliana Schaumburg, two of of six seniors, combined for 19 points against Barnum.
Judd called his team "balanced," as his mixture of veterans and youth are getting better each game. That's includes their shooting, which averages around 35 percent per night, yet last week was in the mid-40s and in Monday's win at Two Harbors, a gaudy 56 percent clip.
"If we improve our defense just a little, we'll be a tough out," said Judd, noting his team's improvement over the year is like night and day. "We know we can beat anybody. If we get hot, watch out."
"We all play well together," added Schaumburg, the team's energizer. "We're willing to work for each other and bring each other back when we're down."
That wasn't much of the case last week, as the Rebels led 29-22 at half and rolled from there, as the Bombers (10-15) struggled shooting from the field.
While Barnum has ample offense in senior 1,000-point scoring senior Mallory Agurkis, juniors Kendal Miletich and Makenzee Schleret and 6-2 sophomore Jordyn Marine, shot-making has been their Achilles heel.
Minus Schleret's quartet of 3-pointers in the second half last week en route to 17 points - hitting five triples for the game - the Bombers made just two field goals in the last 18 minutes.
"It kind of got away from us there," fourth-year coach Dustin Collelo said. "We have a lot of girls who like to shoot, we're just going through these long slumps of not scoring. I believe we can compete with anyone and you never know in that first round (of playoffs). That's what we have our sights set on."
Meanwhile, Blacklock still has her sights on blocks and shots in her final run with the Rebels.
"We're very lucky to have her," Judd said. "We wish we had her for another couple of years."
Moose Lake-WR 29-35-64
Moose Lake-Willow River - Charis Blacklock 20, Natalie Mikrot 17, Meghan Granquist 13, Ellie Schaumberg 6, Ella Rhoades 3, Monica Mikrot 2, Emily Bohnsack 2, Hannah Jirovec 1. Totals 21 17-29 64.
3-point goals - Granquist 3, N. Mikrot 2.
Barnum - Makenzee Schleret 17, Mallory Agurkis 8, Jordyn Marine 6, Allison Marine 4, Danna Weets 4, Lacie O'Leary 2. Totals 15 4-11 41.
3-point goals - Schleret 5, Agurkis 2.