Prep boys basketball: Depth powers Cloquet past Cromwell-Wright in Wood City Classic opener
Sophomore Max Sundquist poured in nine points off the bench for the 'Jacks in a 71-35 win.
CLOQUET — Cloquet received scoring contributions from up and down the roster in a decisive 71-35 victory over Cromwell-Wright on Tuesday, Dec. 27, in the opening round of the Wood City Classic holiday tournament at Cloquet Middle School.
Max Sundquist, Jordan Aultman and James Wilmot combined for 15 points off the bench in what was an encouraging performance from the reserves after previously being held scoreless by Duluth Denfeld.
“We talked about trying to build some depth on the bench and see who the sixth, seventh and eighth guys are gonna be,”Battaglia said. "Our last game against Denfeld we had zero points off the bench, so it’s something that we paid attention to and our bench was good tonight.”
Tuesday’s contest marked the first game played by the Cardinals (3-2) since their Dec. 16 meeting with Floodwood after having their Thursday, Dec. 22 matchup with Braham postponed.
Cromwell-Wright coach Bill Pocernich said it was nice to simply be back on the court in spite of the end result.
“We hadn’t played in two weeks so I was looking forward to just getting out there and competing tonight,” Pocernich said. “I thought we did some good things in the first half and especially in the half court defensively, but we had too many turnovers which they converted into easy transition points.”
The Lumberjacks (2-4) started fast and built a comfortable early lead behind a dominant collective effort in the paint by Reese Sheldon, Izaiah Carrier and Sundquist, in the absence of injured starting forward Marco Mayorga.
The group controlled the glass and capitalized on multiple second-chance baskets to help push Cloquet to its first double-digit lead at 22-11, before growing the margin to 19 at halftime in a 39-20 score.
“I was worried about losing Marco and still am worried about not having Marco, but I think kind of by committee we filled that gap at least admirably for a night. And hopefully we can do it again for another night,” Battaglia said.
The Cardinals’ offense had its hands full in the face of Cloquet's extended 1-2-2 trap, which ultimately forced them out to the perimeter. They scored 18 of their 20 first-half points from beyond the arc. Noah Foster led the club with three made shots from deep in the first half.
The Lumberjacks’ trap defense provided a steep challenge that Pocernich hopes his team can learn from moving forward.
“That’s the first time we’ve seen that, and obviously that being a pretty athletic 1-2-2 we made some poor decisions out of it,” Pocernich said. “Give them credit, they made some good plays. Hopefully we’ll learn from that and next time we see one like that we’ll be able to to attack it better.”
After leading by 19 points at halftime, Cloquet came out firing on all cylinders in the second second half with a 16-4 scoring run that kept the momentum squarely in the home team’s favor until the final buzzer.