Boys basketball: Second half run lifts Wrenshall past Bigfork

Two players score 20 in Wrens’ second win; next game is against Cromwell-Wright Tuesday, Jan. 21.

Wrenshall's Randy Wimmer scores past Bigfork's Ben Heinle during the Wrens' 80-71 home win Monday, Jan. 20. Dave Harwig/Pine Journal

Wrenshall senior Hunter Holmes hit a pair of 3-pointers during a run early in the second half to lead the Wrens to an 80-71 home win over Bigfork Monday, Jan. 20.

The Wrens trailed 33-32 at halftime, but came out and scored the first 10 points of the half. They mounted a 24-8 run to pull out to a 15-point lead with about 12 minutes to play.

Wrenshall's Hunter Holmes shoots a jumper over Bigfork's Liam Prato during the Wrens' home win Monday, Jan. 20. Dave Harwig/Pine Journal

Wrenshall struggled to get around 6-foot-6-inch Bigfork center, Liam Prato. The Huskies’ big man caused the Wrens problems around the rim, forcing missed layups and a number of off-balance shots.


The Wrens relentless attack, however, put Prato on the bench with three fouls and about 7 minutes to play in the first half. Early in the second half, Prato picked up his fourth foul, and shots around the basket started falling for the Wrens.

“Those were the main things I said in the locker room is defensively, we need to talk about their shooter, and offensively ... we need to attack,” Wrenshall coach Jon Bartczak said. “We need to attack the basket, attack the big guy and find those openings in their zone. That’s where we started to pull ahead ... they stayed in that zone and we were working to find that opening to attack the basket.”

Prato’s return to the bench ignited Wrenshall’s defense, creating turnovers that led to points. Kaden Olesen scored six of his 10 points on three consecutive fast break layups off Huskie turnovers.

Bigfork cut into the lead several times in the second half, but Wrenshall responded with timely baskets or free throws. Holmes, Randy Wimmer and Mason Perry combined to go 10-for-10 from the free-throw line over the last 2 minutes of play to help seal the win.

Holmes and Perry led all scorers with 20 points each. Jhace Pearson led Bigfork with 15 points.

Wrenshall's Mason Perry scores past Bigfork's Liam Prato during the Wrens' 80-71 home win Monday, Jan. 20. Dave Harwig/Pine Journal

Bartczak said he was happy with the way his team responded to the Bigfork challenge and hopes it translates to more wins down the stretch and in the section tournament in early March. Without a lot of varsity experience, the Wrens have struggled to maintain leads this season. The Bigfork game demonstrated how good Wrenshall can be if they get out in the open court and take high percentage shots around the basket.


“We’ve got to put those easy ones in, and we’ve got to run the floor,” Bartczak said. “I think we are going to be very competitive if we can accomplish that.”

Wrenshall (2-8) will host Cromwell-Wright at 7:15 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 21.

Bigfork 33-38—71

Wrenshall 32-48—80

Bigfork — Ben Heinle 15, Jackson Lovdahl 2, Jared Lovdahl 12, James Rauzi 7, Caden Kallinen 1, Liam Prato 9, Jhace Pearson 15, Bradley Haley 10. Totals 24 12-25 71.

3-point goals — Heinle 3, Jared Lovdahl 2, Pearson 5, Haley.

Wrenshall — Alex Brownie 2, Tim Swenson 2, Zeke Rousseau 11, Kaden Olesen 10, Isaiah Johnson 2, Mason Perry 20, Austin Larva 3, Randy Wimmer 10, Hunter Holmes 20. Totals 31 15-23 80.


3-point goals — Perry, Holmes 2.

Jamey Malcomb has a been high school sports reporter for the Duluth News Tribune since October 2021. He spent the previous six years covering news and sports for the Lake County News-Chronicle in Two Harbors and the Cloquet Pine Journal. He graduated from the George Washington University in 1999 with a bachelor's degree in history and literature and also holds a master's degree in secondary English education from George Mason University.
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