Prep girls basketball: Mountain Iron-Buhl ramps up pressure in win over Cloquet

Steals turned into fast break baskets for the Rangers in a convincing 82-48 victory.

Alexa Snesrud dribbles towards the basket
Alexa Snesrud of Cloquet drives to the basket with Mountain Iron-Buhl's Jordan Zubich defending during a game on Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022.
Jake Przytarski / Cloquet Pine Journal

CLOQUET — Smothering full court pressure put on by top-ranked Mountain Iron-Buhl (Class A) left host No. 18 ranked Cloquet (Class AAA) flustered and overwhelmed, as the Rangers cruised to a lopsided 82-48 road-win, Thursday, Jan. 20.

The team’s inability to power through MIB’s defensive system was especially frustrating for Cloquet coach Heather Young, who had made it a point of emphasis to prepare for it during practices leading up to Thursday’s contest.

“We knew what they were going to throw at us, and for some reason we just got really frustrated, discombobulated and kind of forgot what we talked about and it showed,” Young said. “MIB is a team that will take every weakness that you have and exploit it 100%.”

Rangers coach Jeff Buffetta came away pleased with the effort shown by his team, and added that the full court pressure has become integral to their success.

“That’s a key to our game, just mixing things up and putting pressure on the other team,” Buffetta said..”We got in a little foul trouble at the end. They gotta stay out of that, but I like how things are going.”


Quinn Danielson looks to pass
Quinn Danielson of Cloquet looks to pass during a game against Mountain Iron-Buhl on Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022.
Jake Przytarski / Cloquet Pine Journal

The visiting team was outright dominant in the first half after turning an early 3-2 deficit into a 23-3 lead via a flurry of fast break layups and dead-eye accuracy from beyond the arc.

Jordan Zubich provided the bulk of the team’s scoring in the first half with 18 of her 24 points coming in the opening 18 minutes of play.

The Lumberjacks’ uncharacteristic struggles to answer back in the face of MIB's onslaught was surprising and disappointing for Young.

“We knew it was going to be a good test for us as they’re a fantastic team, but I am shocked to say the least as to how we responded being the veteran team that we are,” Young said. “There’s a saying there’s no growth without failure, and so my hope is that this burns a lot inside of them, and we come back ready to start new tomorrow.”

The Rangers kept their foot on the gas pedal into the break after growing their lead to 40 at 58-18.

The ball club's strength of moving the ball around and finding an open shooter was exemplified by their 11 made 3-point shots in the first half, with Zubich accounting for four.

“They share the ball when we’re running our offense a little bit more and making some extra passes, which I like to see,” Buffetta said. “Our transition has been really good lately. I think that’s important because we have a whole bunch of kids that can pass and run. The better we do that, I think the better it’ll help our half court offense when we get stopped.”

As the Rangers backed out of the full court pressure in the second half, the home team started to find some success offensively with Alexa Snesrud and Kiley Issendorf leading the way with 11 and 10 points, respectively.


Alexa Snesrud prepares to shoot a layup
Cloquet's Alexa Snesrud prepares to go up for a layup during a game against Mountain Iron-Buhl on Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022.
Jake Przytarski / Cloquet Pine Journal

Cloquet went on to outscore MIB 30-24 in the final 18 minutes, but the outcome had long since been decided in an 82-48 final.

The Lumberjacks (13-4) will look to bounce back Thursday, Jan. 27, when they travel to Duluth to take on Marshall at 7:15 p.m. Young hopes that the team will take the loss as a learning tool as they prepare for the final stretch towards the postseason.

“Come playoff time, we’re going to see just as tough a defense. We’re going to see a press, and we just have to be able to respond not just physically, but mentally as well,” Young said. “So shake off a turnover, and then get back at it and just don’t repeat the same mistake. Tomorrow is a new day, and we’re just going to hit the reset button and learn from this and then hopefully move forward.”

Mountain Iron-Buhl 58-24 —82

Cloquet 18-30—48

Mountain Iron-Buhl — Jacie Kvas 7, Hali Savela 4, Jordan Zubich 24, Brooke Niska 9, Sage Ganyo 5, Ava Butler 17, Lauren Maki 16. Totals 27 16-21 82.

3-point goals — Zubich 4, Butler 3, Niska 2, Maki 2, Ganyo.

Cloquet — Kiley Issendorf 10, Quinn Danielson 6, Katie Turner 1, Macie Majerle 1, Alexa Snesrud 11, Maddie Young 7, Ava Carlson 2, Justice Paro 7, Caley Kruse 3. Totals 16 12-20 48.


3-point goals — Issendorf 2, Danielson 2.

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