The Brown Jug trophy will stay in Carlton after the Bulldogs grounded the visiting Wrenshall Wrens 63-45 on Friday, March 5.
The trophy, which stands about 18 inches tall and is decorated with results of previous games, sat in the center circle at half court during pregame warmups. Players noticeably stopped to take a good look as they walked or dribbled by.
“The boys love playing this game,” said Carlton coach Shawn Filipiak. “The momentum and the energy really changed things for us.”
The first half began as a high-energy, low-scoring affair, with both teams settling into aggressive 2-3 zone defenses in the half court. Midway through the half, the teams were tied 8-8 and had combined for 13 turnovers. Carlton headed into halftime with a five-point lead after 12 first-half points from senior Trevor Ojibway, who led all scorers with 16 for the game.
“(In the first half) we were being patient and working the ball around,” said Wrenshall coach Jon Bartczak. “We were finding those openings. Then we just started chucking up shots in the first part of the second half, and that’s how it got away.”
Wrenshall (5-10) had stayed in the game by connecting on five first-half 3-pointers, but cooled off after halftime, going 1 of 13 from behind the arc after the break. Three of their six long-range shots came from senior Mason Perry, who led the Wrens with 17 points.
“(3-point shots) have been a big part of our offense,” Bartczak said. “If they’re hitting shots and we’re not, that’s miserable – it’s like there’s a lid on it. We try to attack, but when most of our game is reliant on those 3s, it’s hard.”
Carlton (8-7) took advantage of Wrenshall’s offensive woes, going on runs of 7-0 and 14-0 in the middle of the second half. With about 6 minutes left in the game, they had built a 20-point lead.
“This is probably the second, third, maybe even fourth game where we’ve fallen flat in a half,” Bartczak said. “Then we’re trying to dig ourselves out of this hole, and it just doesn’t happen.”
In addition to tightening the screws defensively, the Bulldogs adeptly handled Wrenshall’s switch to a full-court press. Senior guard Spencer Rousseau took command of the Bulldogs’ press-break for most of the game, in addition to scoring 11 points.
“He’s a great player,” said Carlton’s Filipiak, who quickly added that handling pressure is a team effort. “We have six seniors, and we always have a nice rotation of young guys who come in and give such good energy and hustle, and that’s another reason we were able to break that press.”
When asked how he felt about his team’s effort on an emotionally charged Senior Night, with a rivalry trophy on the line, Filipiak didn’t miss a beat. “Over the length of the season we’ve slowly gotten better. Knowing the personnel a little bit better being only a few miles away (from Wrenshall), I think the boys knew how to handle the pressure.”
The two teams will square off again on Monday in Wrenshall, though not for the Brown Jug. “It’s a one-time-per-year thing,” Filipiak said. Each Jug Game is hosted by the previous year’s winner, so the trophy will be up for grabs in Carlton again next year.
Wrenshall 24-21 – 45
Carlton 29-34 – 63
Wrenshall – Carter Woodall 2, AJ Olesen 7, Corey Despot 6, Ryder Wrazidlo 2, Mason Perry 17, Peyton Johnson 5, Austin Larva 6. Totals 16 7-12 45.
3-point goals – Olesen, Despot, Perry 3, Johnson.
Carlton – Spencer Rousseau 11, Danny Eggert 3, Luukas Korpela 3, Trevor Ojibway 16, Aaron Schilla 7, Dante Thompson 6, Kristian Herman 4, Colin Emerson 4, Sam Ojibway 9. Totals 22 14-23 63.
3-point goals – Eggert, T. Ojibway 2, Schilla, Thompson.