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Prep boys basketball: Cloquet overwhelms Cromwell-Wright in Wood City Classic opener

The Lumberjacks advanced to the Wood City Classic championship game after defeating the Cardinals, 67-30.

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Cloquet's Marco Mayorga goes up for a shot during a Wood City Classic tournament game against Cromwell-Wright on Tuesday, Dec. 28, 2021, at Cloquet Middle School. Jake Przytarski / Cloquet Pine Journal

An evenly-balanced effort on the offensive end of the floor helped propel Cloquet to a 67-30 win over Cromwell-Wright to open the Wood City Classic tournament on Tuesday, Dec. 28 at Cloquet Middle School.

The Lumberjacks were led by double-digit point-getters Conner Barney (17), Alec Turnbull (14) and Caleb Hansen (13). Nine different players recorded a basket for Cloquet in the win.

Tuesday’s contest between the ‘Jacks and Cardinals was a rematch of a Dec. 14 meeting that saw Cloquet come out on top in a 61-47 final.

The latest matchup between the two teams was a one-sided affair.

“(We) just kind of exerted our will a little bit,” coach Steve Battaglia said. “I thought we executed pretty well for most of the night. We defended pretty well and made life hard on them. We possess the size and strength to get to the basket, so I was happy with that.”

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RELATED: Prep girls basketball: Mesabi East stuns Cloquet at Wood City Classic The Giants advanced to the Wood City Classic championship game with a win over the Lumberjacks.

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Kollin Bonneville of Cloquet guards Cromwell-Wright's Tanner Collman during a Wood City Classic tournament game on Tuesday, Dec. 28, 2021, at Cloquet Middle School. Jake Przytarski / Cloquet Pine Journal


Cromwell-Wright coach Bill Pocernich tipped his cap to Cloquet, but acknowledged that it was far from his team’s best performance.

“I think Cloquet did a lot of things really well, which caused our struggles tonight,” Pocernich said. “I don’t think we played very well. I wasn’t happy with how we competed, especially in the first half, but I think Cloquet had something to do with that. Athletically, they were better than us at every position, and they took advantage of that.”

The Cardinals opened the game with a promising start to the first half, as the team remained in lock-step with the Lumberjacks in an early 7-7 tie. The back-and-forth start faded quickly, however, as Cloquet used a 17-3 run highlighted by an emphatic dunk by Barney to surge ahead 24-10.

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Cloquet's Alec Turnbull puts up a 3-point shot during a Wood City Classic tournament game against Cromwell-Wright on Tuesday, Dec. 28, 2021, at Cloquet Middle School. Jake Przytarski / Cloquet Pine Journal

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Dominance in the paint by Marco Mayorga and Barney, along with stymying team-defense kept the Lumberjacks in complete control into halftime with a 35-15 advantage.

Mayorga’s return from a recent illness loomed large in the battle of the boards, according to Battaglia.

“Marco’s been out for a week now with an illness, so he’s finally back, and you can tell we’re just a far different team with Marco out there,” Battaglia said. “Marco and Conner (Barney) inside are two physical guys. Kollin Bonneville is back in the rotation after also missing time with an injury from football, so we’ve gotten a lot bigger and more physical in the last three days by just getting a couple of guys back.”

Cloquet kept its foot on the gas pedal to start the second half by out-scoring the Cardinals 20-5 in extending its lead to 57-20.

With the outcome all but decided, reserve players on the Lumberjacks roster entered the game down the stretch and stayed on the court until the final buzzer.

Both teams will be back in action today to close out the Wood City Classic tournament. Cromwell-Wright (5-2) will take on Proctor in the third-place game at 2:45 p.m. at Cloquet Middle School, while Cloquet (5-4) will face Pine City in the championship game at 6:15 p.m.

Cromwell-Wright 15-15—30

Cloquet 35-32—67

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Cloquet — Conner Barney 17, Alec Turnbull 14, Caleb Hansen 13, Marco Mayorga 9, Kollin Bonneville 6, Seth Rothamel 2, Owen Defoe-Hayes 2, Jordan Aultman 2, Malachi Bridge 2.

3-point goals — Hansen.

Cromwell-Wright — Ethan Shelton 7, Tanner Collman 6, Nathan Eliason 6, Noah Foster 3, Dylan Nyberg 3, Michael Zoeller 2, Andres Angulo 2, Liam Schoenberg 1.

3-point goals — Collman, Shelton, Foster.

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