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Cloquet prepares for Wood City Tournament

The week off before the holidays came at a bit of a tough time for the Cloquet girls basketball team. After two consecutive wins, the Jacks took a week off before hosting Hermantown Tuesday night as this edition went to press. "The girls get anxi...

The week off before the holidays came at a bit of a tough time for the Cloquet girls basketball team.

After two consecutive wins, the Jacks took a week off before hosting Hermantown Tuesday night as this edition went to press.

"The girls get anxious to play," coach Jeff Ojanen said. "It was good to have a week to work on some things and work on adding extra things into the offense but it's a struggle staying competitive and staying sharp."

The Jacks will take care of that problem after the Hermantown game, hosting Superior on Monday in the Wood City Classic and St. Michael Albertville on Tuesday.

"It's nice to get two good opponents in, and that's what we try to do," Ojanen said. "We try to make it worth our time to get those games in against teams that are traditionally very competitive. St. Michael is in the top 15 teams in the state in Class AAA so we will get a good test."

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With the team's record at 2-3 heading into Tuesday's game against Hermantown, Ojanen is happy with what he's seen.

"Hermantown is an important game because it's both a conference game and a game against a section opponent," he said. "But I think we're doing OK heading into the holidays. The girls are learning a lot, getting used to my system, and understanding what I want to see on the floor. We're working to get better and the Wood City tournament is important to help us do that."

Ojanen is also pleasantly surprised by how hard the players are willing to work.

"They work hard every day in practice and in games," he said. "They are competitive. They don't shy away from doing the little things even when things aren't going well. That shows up in our play."

Goals for the second half of the season include perhaps the most important thing in basketball - taking care of the rock.

"We have done well with turnovers in the games we've won, but when we lose a close game a look at the stat sheet tells us why," Ojanen said.

And, of course, defensive improvement is vital.

"We want to get better defensively each night," Ojanen added. "If we want to be able to compete in the playoffs, we have to play tough defense. The girls understand that. We need to be tough on that side of the court."

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