A rivalry draw: ’Jacks boys win; girls fall
CLOQUET--Dressed in bright, colorful shirts, leis and even a few in sunglasses Tuesday night, the Cloquet student section was in Hawaiian theme for the Lumberjacks' girls-then-boys basketball doubleheader against rival Duluth East.
CLOQUET-Dressed in bright, colorful shirts, leis and even a few in sunglasses Tuesday night, the Cloquet student section was in Hawaiian theme for the Lumberjacks’ girls-then-boys basketball doubleheader against rival Duluth East.
The section of teenagers, known as the “Cloquet Crazies,” supported both teams in each regular-season home finale, but went their craziest during the opening half of the boys’ game.
Cloquet won that game 63-53 over the Class AAAA Greyhounds, never trailing after a pair of 3-pointers, first by sophomore Brandon Hill, followed by a shot by senior Nate Weets that sent the student body into a frenzy.
“They make it a fun atmosphere; it’s always fun to play in front of them,” said Weets, who scored a game-high 20 points, but none bigger than his lone triple that gave the Lumberjacks a 17-13 advantage and the lead for good. “To get a big win against a 4A team gives us a lot of confidence. They have a good ball club. It’s always good to beat East.”
Hill - who followed with 15 points on his quintet of 3-pointers, several of which brought fans to their feet - agreed.
“It’s fun to beat East,” said Hill, shortly after a student walked by him chiming “You’re my favorite player to watch!”
“It’s fun,” Hill continued about the student section, one he participates in himself during various seasons. “You can hear them all.”
You could surely hear Greyhounds Coach Rhett McDonald Tuesday. The energetic and passionate coach was trying to bring energy to his 14-11 club, but it was to no avail, as Cloquet continued to add to a 23-19 halftime lead in a whistle-filled second, in which three East players fouled out.
“We didn’t shoot the ball well and put ourselves in a position where it was tough to come back,” McDonald said.
For the Lumberjacks (15-9), the 10-point victory avenged a 69-56 defeat at East Dec. 18 and was one of the finest wins for a team that’s improving at the right time of the year when seeking to defend their Section 7AAA title come early March.
“That was a big win,” said a confident Cloquet Coach Steve Battaglia afterward. “I like what we’re doing lately.
“And we’ve got the best student section in the league.”
GIRLS: Duluth East 51, Cloquet 39
Students also watched the Lumberjacks girls fall in the prior tilt, as Cloquet hung in there, trailing 26-22 at half, but couldn’t keep up with 11-13 East’s trio of dual-digit scorers.
Junior Kassidy Steen, led Cloquet (10-13) with 15 points.
“[East] probably has the most talent of anybody we have played,” Coach Jeff Ojanen said after Cloquet’s fourth defeat in a row. “We just have to find a way to be more consistent.”