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Girls basketball: Cloquet's Kelley stumps Spartans in second half

Cloquet's Vanna Kelley drives by Superior's Julie Haller during the Lake Superior Conference Girls Day game Saturday, Dec. 15, at Hermantown High School. Dave Harwig / Pine Journal1 / 3
Cloquet's Allie Wojtysiak scores a basket during the game against Superior Saturday, Dec. 15. Dave Harwig / Pine Journal2 / 3
Cloquet's Vanna Kelley shoots a three-pointer over Superior's Chloe Kintop during the Lake Superior Conference Day game Saturday, Dec. 15, at Hermantown High School. Dave Harwig / Pine Journal3 / 3

Cloquet senior Vanna Kelley scored 18 points, including 11 of the Lumberjacks' final 13 points, to power a 45-39 comeback win over Superior on Saturday, Dec. 15, at Hermantown High School.

Cloquet came out a little flat and fell behind the Spartans 27-18 after Superior closed the half on a 15-6 run.

Cloquet came out of the locker room and closed the deficit to three on the strength of an 8-2 run to open the half. Then Kelley took over, scoring the next six points for Cloquet — the last two coming when the Lumberjacks' senior captain followed her own missed shot and put back the rebound.

The play gave Cloquet its first lead since early in the first half. Following a pair of free throws from senior captain Allie Wojtysak, Kelley hit a 3-pointer to give the Lumberjacks a seven-point lead with less than two minutes to play.

"The nice thing about basketball is you have two halves," Cloquet coach Heather Young said. "So if your first half doesn't go the way you want it you, you hope your second half does."

It wasn't a pretty win for Cloquet, but Kelley stepped up for her team and led them to a much-needed victory during Lake Superior College Girls Day. Six other teams also played in Hermantown on Saturday.

Young said her team wasn't doing what they needed to win. The Lumberjacks were walking the ball up the court. They were slow to get into their defensive sets, and the team needed one of its senior leaders to step up to the challenge.

"She came out, she took control, she was leading vocally and during timeouts she was talking," Young said. "All those things you expect out of a senior who has been here for a while and she did the job beautifully. Thankfully, she was taking the ball to the hoop and finishing."

The win wasn't without a scare, however. In the waning seconds as Superior tried to mount a comeback, Kelley was fighting for a jump ball. In the ensuing scrum, a player rolled up Kelley's knee.

Fortunately for the Lumberjacks, it seemed to be just a scare. Kelley practiced and played with a knee brace this week, scoring 16 points in a yet another comeback victory: a 57-54 win over Hermantown on Tuesday, Dec. 18, in Cloquet.

Cloquet (4-2) is scheduled to host North Branch on Thursday, Dec. 20.

Jamey Malcomb

Jamey Malcomb has been a reporter for the Pine Journal since October 2018. He previously worked as a reporter for the Lake County News-Chronicle from 2015-2018. Malcomb is a native of North Carolina and holds a bachelor's degree in English and history from the George Washington University and a master's degree in education from George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. Malcomb moved to Minnesota in July 2012 and worked as a sports clerk and news assistant at the Duluth News Tribune. 

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