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Prep girls basketball: Carlton edges Wrenshall in 37-35 road win

The Bulldogs capitalized on Wrenshall's second-half foul troubles that kept two of its top scorers on the bench.

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Wrenshall's Janae Sjodin goes up for a contested shot during a girls basketball game against Carlton on Thursday, Dec. 2. Jake Przytarski / Cloquet Pine Journal

The Wrenshall Wrens saw their narrow second-half lead slip away late due to foul trouble in a 37-35 loss to rival Carlton on Thursday, Dec. 2, at Wrenshall High School.

The Wrens were forced to go without junior Janae Sjodin, who finished with a team-high 11 points, in the final minutes of the tightly contested tilt. Sophomore starter Liberty Bilges was also relegated to the bench after fouling out early in the second half.

With two of their three top scorers off the floor, Carlton coach Brian Hey dialed up the pressure hoping to generate points off of turnovers.

“When (Sjodin) fouled out, that made a difference,” Carlton coach Brian Hey said. “Then we put a little more pressure defensively. I put the full-court (pressure on) and tried to make them work a little more, and got some turnovers.”

Wrenshall coach Emma Grover appreciated the spirited effort put forth by her young team, but acknowledged they will need to show more discipline moving forward in order to eliminate costly fouls.

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“I think it’s a good learning point for us to know that we have to kind of rein it back in a little bit,” Grover said. “I appreciate their aggressiveness, though, because that’s something that we’ve talked about. ... I was always an aggressive player, so I’m a firm believer in that.”

The Bulldogs appeared poised to run away with the contest at the midway point of the first half as the team opened up a 20-8 lead over the Wrens. The fast start was fueled by junior Madison Asleson, who finished with a game-high 15 points.

Sjodin, Bilges and Abbie Resberg provided the counter-punch for the Wrens down the stretch as the deficit eventually dwindled to just three points at halftime with Carlton still clinging to a 26-23 lead. The three combined for 29 of Wrenshall’s 35 points overall for the game.

While foul trouble was not an issue for the visiting Bulldogs, the team dealt with its own issues stemming from a short bench through much of the first half in the absence of two varsity players. Junior Megan Matarelli’s injury sustained early in the first half further complicated things for short-handed Carlton.

“I was missing two varsity players, one starter. So, we were kind of already short,” Hey said. “Megan got hurt. She’s a starter and one of our main point guards, so she didn’t play the whole first half pretty much. I just worked in some girls. Some of the girls haven’t even seen a varsity floor ever.”

The lack of experience led to a challenging start to the second half, as Wrenshall crawled back to take its first lead at 35-31 with Carlton struggling to find its rhythm offensively. The momentum shifted shortly after, however, when Bilges left the game with her fifth foul. Minutes later, Sjodin joined her on the bench after fouling out as well.

Senior Morgan Laveau put the Bulldogs back in front with a pair of clutch free throws to make it 35-34 in the waning minutes of the game. Without their best ball-handlers to set up the offense in the face of full-court pressure, the Wrens watched as the final seconds ticked in a 37-35 Carlton victory.

Both teams will return to the court on Monday, Dec. 6 when Carlton (1-0) travels to Finlayson for a matchup against East Central. The Wrens (0-1) will travel to Cloquet to take on Fond du Lac Ojibwe.

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Carlton 26-11 – 37

Wrenshall 23-12 – 35

Carlton – Madison Asleson 15, Morgan Laveau 8, Korah Crane 5, Megan Matarelli 3, Brielle Simula, Haley Ableiter and Emma Peterson 2

3-point goals – Asleson 3, Matarelli 1.

Wrenshall – Janae Sjodin 11, Abbie Resberg 10, Liberty Bilges 8, Liz Johnson 4, Hannah Tauzell 2.

3-point goals – None.

Related Topics: BASKETBALL
Jake Przytarski is a reporter for the Cloquet Pine Journal covering a mix of news and sports.
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