'Jacks basketball lose 47-38 to Northwestern

MAPLE - Northwestern won the opening tip, flew down the floor and scored a layup within the first three seconds of Tuesday night's girls basketball game against visiting Cloquet.

MAPLE - Northwestern won the opening tip, flew down the floor and scored a layup within the first three seconds of Tuesday night's girls basketball game against visiting Cloquet.

From that point on, the Lumberjacks never saw the lead - ever.

The Tigers used their well-experienced squad equipped with a fast-paced offensive attack and harassing defense to pester the inexperienced 'Jacks all night, en route to a season-opening 47-38 victory Tuesday evening at Northwestern High School.

"Our lack of experience hurt us tonight," said Cloquet second-year head coach Jeff Ojanen after the game. "The girls had the jitters and it really showed early on."

After scoring off the tip, Northwestern used a number of quick transition buckets mixed with a pair of 3-pointers to run off to an 18-8 lead after the first quarter. Ten turnovers in the first eight minutes didn't help the cause for the 'Jacks.


"We just had too many turnovers out there," said Ojanen about his club that finished the night with 26 turnovers compared to the Tigers' 16. "And that made it tough to fight back tonight. Turnovers just killed us."

Cloquet climbed back into the game during the second quarter and only trailed by seven points with the scoreboard reading 25-18 at halftime.

It was the closest they would ever get.

"Our defense was good tonight and kept us in the game," said Ojanen, "but we have to rebound better. We just gave up way too many second-chance points to Northwestern. They got some easy buckets and made us pay."

But perhaps the biggest factor in Tuesday night's loss for Cloquet was the absence of senior captains Kialee Kutter and Katie Pappas. Without them, the 'Jacks only had two players on the floor with any varsity experience.

"We were missing some key players," said Ojanen, "but we were right in the game the whole night. We missed some shots that we don't usually miss and we couldn't pull it off.

"We'd go on a run, and then they'd go on a run," continued Ojanen. "We just couldn't get over that hump tonight."

Senior guard Cassidy Stolzman led the Tigers' attack with a game-high 19 points; while senior forward Anna Morgan tallied 12 in the win that marked the 100th for Northwestern head coach Shawn Leith in his career.


Cloquet was paced by junior Annabel Morrisroe, as the forward chalked up a team-best 16 points and seven rebounds, while fellow juniors Sarah McMillen and Jenna Beaupre each added eight. Senior captain Brianna Henagin also chipped in a game-leading five assists in the tough nine-point loss.

Nonetheless, Ojanen is optimistic.

"The girls played hard tonight," he said. "They never gave up until the final whistle and that really makes me proud. They're working hard at practice too. We have some things to improve on, but we'll be there in the end, I know it."

The 'Jacks will be back in action Thursday, Dec. 3, when they travel to Duluth East for another non-conference road assignment. Cloquet then tangos with Esko on Monday, Dec. 7, and Ashland on Friday, Dec. 11. All the road contests are set for a 7:30 p.m. opening tip.

"The girls are really excited to play East," said Ojanen. "There's no doubt, we'll be ready to go."

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