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Bulldogs bounce Wrens, both finish seasons

It's a battle for the ball as Wrenshall senior Delaney Kittel (24) and Carlton senior Ashley Anderson (40) grapple for possession of a rebound during Wednesday night’s Section 7A playoff matchup in Proctor. Dan Saletel/ 1 / 4
Wrenshall senior Shana Laveau makes a pass between Carlton defenders Mackenzie Goranson (left) and Jenna Reed. Dan Saletel/ 2 / 4
Carlton senior Abby Lemke goes up for two points on a breakaway opportunity against Wrenshall. Dan Saletel/ 3 / 4
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Amid preparations for their girls basketball playoff meeting last week, Andrew Weber and Sheri Nelson shared some laughable text messages with each other before Weber’s Carlton crew clashed with Nelson’s group from Wrenshall.

After all, it was the third meeting for the pair of Polar League schools that are separated by just four miles, and in these pair of tiny towns, this game always means everything.

For a third time, the Wrens gave the Bulldogs everything they could handle, but Carlton held on to a 46-40 victory over their rivals in a Section 7A tilt last Wednesday at Proctor.

Despite an abundance of green within the Proctor high school gymnasium, Carlton’s blue and Wrenshall’s orange colors decorated the bleachers, as plenty of faithful fans attended a game between neighbors that is never one to miss.

Don’t forget that the girls have a yearly battle for the coveted Brown Jug, a five-pound memento that has between traveling between the schools since 1980, while the boys do it, too, having competed for their larger 30-pound prize since 1951.

“I definitely think it’s a game to see for one who’s never seen it,” said Weber, in just his second year at Carlton. “It’s a great game, fun atmosphere and always a close one.”

Such was not the case early last Wednesday when Weber’s fourth-seeded Bulldogs (11-17) bolted on a 19-2 spurt to begin the game. Nelson’s No. 5 Wrens (9-17), however, didn’t fade, pulling to within 24-19 by halftime. According to Nelson, the Wrens even tied it at 35-35 in the second, but faded.

“The girls battled back, but that was a rough way to start,” said Nelson, whose team also lost to Carlton 57-50 and 49-40 this season. “I walked into that locker room and every single girl was crying — that’s hard. It was a really tough ending.”

Although their season is now over, Nelson hosted practice the next day for her group — led by 1,000-point seniors Delaney Kittel and Shana Laveau — so they could still play. For the Wrens, it was their winningest team since a state trip in 2008.

“I’ve been with these girls since seventh grade,” said Nelson. “They’re a great group that did a lot of great things.”

Carlton, meanwhile, made its way to last Saturday’s quarterfinals held at the University of Minnesota-Duluth. A 73-28 loss to top-seed Floodwood didn’t deflate them, as the Bulldogs played at UMD for the first time in recent memory.

“I don’t know how long it’s been,” said an honest Weber.

“That was really cool, it was one of our goals,” said senior Ashley Anderson, who scored 15 points last week to add to classmate Abby Lemke’s 13 against the Wrens, led by Kittel’s game-high 18. “Lots of good things happened [this season].”