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Boys basketball: Cardinal press too much for Nevis

Cromwell-Wright's Marcus Pocernich makes a layup in front of Nevis' Luke DeWulf during the Friday, Feb. 22, homecoming basketball game. Dave Harwig / Pine Journal1 / 4
Cromwell-Wright boys basketball coach Bill Pocernich and assistant Dean Levinski give instructions during a late timeout. Dave Harwig / Pine Journal2 / 4
Cromwell-Wright's Micah Pocernich puts up a shot in front of Nevis' Michael Landquist. Dave Harwig / Pine Journal3 / 4
Cromwell-Wright's Cameron Cahoon scores over the defense of Nevis' Michael Landquist on Friday, Feb. 22. Dave Harwig / Pine Journal4 / 4

Cromwell-Wright junior Micah Pocernich scored 26 points in a 67-55 homecoming win over Section 5A rival Nevis on Friday, Feb. 22.

The Cardinal press dominated the opening moments of the game, as Micah Pocernich hit a 3-pointer to open the game and his brother, senior Marcus Pocernich, hit a pair of layups off Nevis turnovers to give the a 7-0 lead.

The C-W press would continue cause problems for the Tiger offense, causing 10 first half turnovers and giving the Cardinals a 33-21 halftime lead. Coach Bill Pocernich said the return of Drew Libbon from injury eight games ago is the key to the press.

Libbon suffered a dislocated hip in the Section 5 Nine-Man championship game in November. He is still working his way back into the offense, but his return to the team allows C-W to run a more aggressive press.

"We didn't press a lot until Drew came back," Coach Pocernich said. "He had a football injury, he didn't start playing until the beginning of February. Once he came back, that allow to do that a little bit more and gave us a little more depth."

Another key for the Cardinals was the interior play of Cameron Cahoon. Cahoon scored 15 points in the game, several off offensive rebounds and three times was able to draw a foul and still finish the play with points. He also made a late steal and found Jaden Gronner for an easy layup that sealed the win for C-W.

"Cam really helps our balance," Coach Pocernich said. "We shoot the ball pretty well, especially with Jaden, Micah and Marcus. When teams extend, which Nevis had to do because we can shoot it, that gives Cameron room to operate inside. He really played well, made good decisions, finished strong, rebounded and defended well — he played a really good game."

The win was important for C-W (20-3), with Nevis (12-7) winning its previous two games against Pine River-Backus and Walker-Hackensack-Akeley — two other contenders in Section 5A. The win was the Cardinals' ninth straight and they have not lost a game to a Class A opponent this season.

The Cardinals are playing well and — with the return of Libbon — as healthy as they've been all season. Coach Pocernich was a little concerned with his team's inability to close the door on Nevis, but he was otherwise happy with where his team is at with the Section 5A tournament beginning March 7.

"We have not finished games well and we're going to have to do that better," Coach Pocernich said. "Tonight, I thought we had a few silly mistakes that gave them life. We were up 12 with three minutes to go and we just need to end it. Instead, we had a foolish offensive foul, a couple of foolish turnovers. We need to clean some of that stuff up, but overall I like where we're at." C-W topped Mountain Iron-Buhl 46-41 on Tuesday, Feb. 26, and is scheduled to finish the regular season against Nashwauk-Keewatin at 7:15 p.m. Friday, March 1, at home.

Nevis 21-34—55

Cromwell-Wright 33-34—67

Nevis — Mathias Warrington 5, Luke DeWulf 14, Derek Lindow 17, Eddie Kramer 9, Michael Landquist 10. Totals 19 8-10 55.

3-point goals — DeWulf, Lindow 3, Kramer 3, Landquist 2.

Cromwell-Wright — Marcus Pocernich 8, Micah Pocernich 26, Isaac Shelton 6, Jaden Gronner 10, Gage Jones 2, Cameron Cahoon 15. Totals 25 8-11 67.

3-point goals — Ma. Pocernich, Mi. Pocernich 4, Shelton 2, Gronner 2.

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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