Girls basketball: Lumberjacks drop pair at Wood City tourney

Cloquet's Katie Turner scores past Cambridge-Isanti's Molly Hennen during the Wood City Classic game Friday, Dec. 27, at Cloquet Middle School. (Dave Harwig / Pine Journal)

CLOQUET — East Central’s Bria Walz only made one shot during the second half of the Eagles’ girls basketball game with Cloquet last weekend.

Her timing was impeccable.

Walz picked the perfect time to score when the senior forward banked the ball off the backboard from the right-side block in the waning seconds to edge East Central past Cloquet 50-48 Saturday, Dec. 28, in the final day of the Wood City Classic.

Katie Turner’s half-court prayer was nearly answered for the Lumberjacks as the buzzer sounded, yet bounced off the back iron as Walz’s Eagles teammates came soaring toward her in jubilant smiles.

Classmate Bella Lourey-Bowen, who scored a game-high 16 points and assisted Walz’s winner on their inbounds play, was one of the first to find her.


“We had some trouble in the game with finishing those close shots,” said East Central coach George Swanson of his team, which was 22-of-56 from the field. “It was nice to see the team able to finish at the end when the pressure was on.”

Walz’s only mark in the second — giving her eight points on the night — helped the Eagles erase a 31-26 halftime deficit to the Lumberjacks (0-9), a squad still searching for their first victory.

“Crushing,” Cloquet coach Heather Young said of the last-second loss. “Kudos to East Central on never giving up and finishing at the end.”

“A win was so within reach,” added Lumberjack senior captain Kate Owens, who played all 36 minutes.

Cloquet's Gracie Meagher draws a foul on Cambridge-Isanti's Brooklyn Terwilliger while shooting during the Wood City Classic game Friday, Dec. 27, in Cloquet.

For the sixth time in nine games, Young’s sophomore daughter, Maddie, centered Cloquet in scoring, totaling 15 points. Followed by junior teammate Gracie Meagher’s 11 points, the Maddie Young also added 19 in a 74-40 loss to Cambridge-Isanti Friday, Dec. 27.

The Bluejackets, who also defeated Crosby-Ironton 70-56 during the event, start five seniors. Two of them, Amme Sheforgen and Jana Swanson, will be playing at Bemidji State next year, while Jackie Olander will be running track and field at Minnesota-Duluth.


“Awesome group,” said C-I coach Jody Ledahl, who brought his talent-laden squad to last year’s Section 7AAAA final and is hoping to return this March.

Speaking of returning, Ledahl said he would like to bring his Bluejackets back up north next winter after experiencing the taste of their first Wood City Classic.

The annual event, now in its 14th consecutive year since returning in 2006, is a well-oiled machine with an event staff that goes the extra mile.

As teams and fans were welcomed in the Cloquet Middle School entryway, concessions were efficient, announcing and music booming and scorekeeping detailed as the event’s effectiveness was second-to-none. There was even a hospitality room available for coaches, officials and staff. Both Cloquet clubs also held their youth medal nights, with the girls Friday and boys Saturday.

“The teams who come enjoy it just as much as we do,” Heather Young said. “Hosting is an awesome tradition. Our program is lucky to have it.”

One of the most untraditional moments of the weekend’s four girls’ contests featured Saturday’s title tilt between Cambridge-Isanti and Crosby-Ironton — for C-I supremacy.

“I kept saying, ‘Go, C-I’ and I then realized I couldn’t say that this game,” Crosby-Ironton coach Peter Vukelich admitted with a laugh.

Vukelich’s Rangers topped East Central 56-42 in the tourney opener, only to see the Eagles down the Lumberjacks in the girls’ finale.


Cloquet, however, which lost over 3,000 points from seven seniors a season ago, remains hungry to turn the tide.

“This year has been different than most,” said Owens, the Lumberjacks’ lone senior. “We graduated a lot last year, but I believe the younger girls have a lot of potential."

“This start of this season was not a planned one. The goal is to be at our best at the end of the season — we can only go up from here,” Young said. “Our kids work hard, and they want that first win. It’ll come.”

Wood City Classic

Friday, Dec. 27

Crosby-Ironton 56, East Central 42
Cambridge-Isanti 74, Cloquet 40

Saturday, Dec. 28

Cambridge-Isanti 70, Crosby-Ironton 56
East Central 50, Cloquet 48

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