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Cloquet steam rolls Rails 67-37

CLOQUET, Minn. - When all-star junior center Chad Calcaterra poured in the Lumberjacks' first 12 points Tuesday night, the Proctor boys basketball team knew it was going to be a long evening against heavily-favored Cloquet.

CLOQUET, Minn. - When all-star junior center Chad Calcaterra poured in the Lumberjacks' first 12 points Tuesday night, the Proctor boys basketball team knew it was going to be a long evening against heavily-favored Cloquet.

That it was, as Calcaterra went on to rack up a game-leading 35 points en route to guiding the 'Jacks to a 67-37 Lake Superior Conference victory over the visiting Rails before a packed house in Cloquet.

The conference clash started quickly in favor of the Lumberjacks. With Calcaterra's solid offensive play, Cloquet (9-6 overall; 7-0 Lake Superior Conference) ran off to an early 26-6 lead over Proctor (1-11; 0-5) before some fans even sat down.

Throughout the last half of the frame, however, both the Rails and 'Jacks battled back and forth with Cloquet taking a 40-26 advantage in at halftime.

After the break, Proctor came out tough, nailing a 3-pointer to cut the Lumberjack lead to 11, but that's as close as they would get. Cloquet - who shot an impressive 43 percent from the field - then scored the next eight points to jump up by 19 and eventually close the door on the Rails, as they rolled to their sixth straight win.

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"We've been coming out a little slow lately, so it was definitely nice to come out hard," said Cloquet head coach Steve Battaglia. "I was really happy with the big win tonight."

But even though Battaglia was pleased with the 30-point victory, he still knows his club - who has rattled off nine wins in their last 11 contests - has some things to work on in the gym.

"I thought we played well, but we definitely have to improve in some areas," said Battaglia about his squad who turned the ball over 10 times and shot just 50 percent from the charity stripe against the Rails. "We have to take better care of the ball and start hitting our free-throws."

Calcaterra also nabbed 12 rebounds and blocked a game-high seven shots to go with his 35 points, while both senior guard Darrin Powell and junior guard Peter LaCourse tallied 10 points on the night for the conference-leading 'Jacks.

Junior guard RaRa Jones also snagged a game-leading 15 rebounds, as he collected both seven points and a game-high seven assists, while just turning the ball over once all night. Cloquet senior guards Dedric Clark and Ryan Korby also added a bucket on the evening, while fellow senior guard Mike Hill drained a free throw to round out the box score and secure the victory over Proctor.

The Rails - who shot just 28 percent from the floor - were guided by their senior guard Charlie Habermann, who scored a team-leading 10 points and collected six rebounds. Denior guard James Ostrander posted nine points and both senior forward Derek Solarz and senior center Cole Lipinski chipped in six in the loss.

Cloquet will now put their winning streak to the test at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 29, as they welcome Bemidji for the always-exciting "Battle of the Lumberjacks." Tuesday, Feb. 3, they will travel to Hermantown to face yet another conference foe at 7:30 p.m.

"I am happy with where the boys are at," said Battaglia about his 'Jacks, who have yet to lose this season in the always-grinding Lake Superior Conference. "This is a deeper team than I've ever had before and we're excited about the direction we're going."

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