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Prep boys basketball: Second-half surge powers East past Cloquet

The Greyhounds outscored the Lumberjacks 41-17 in the final 18 minutes of Tuesday's contest.

Player goes for layup
Duluth East senior center Rocco Paulson goes up for a layup during a game against Cloquet on Tuesday in Duluth.
Amy Arntson / Cloquet Pine Journal
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DULUTH — Paced by 6-foot-8 senior center Rocco Paulson, Duluth East outscored visiting Cloquet 41-17 in the second half to turn a 10-point halftime advantage into a runaway 83-49 victory in their season opener on Tuesday, Dec. 6 at East High School.

Paulson’s 16-point night marked a team-high for East, with four players joining him in double figures.

“I think the stats would show that we were pretty well-balanced. East head coach Rhett McDonald said. “I didn’t think we shot it particularly well, but the ball kept moving and we kind of ground through some of the yucky parts of the game in the first half and in the beginning of the second half too.”

Despite the team’s struggles in the second half, Cloquet head coach Steve Battaglia saw a lot in which to build off of from their performance in the opening 18 minutes.

“I’m thrilled with that first half we played against them,” Battaglia said. “We’ve got a lot of growth still to come and I think we’re going to be pretty solid by the end of the year, but how long it takes us (remains to be seen).”

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The Greyhounds’ ability to score in bunches was on full display in the first half as Paulson and fellow 6-foot-8 big Patrick Smith wreaked havoc against the undersized ‘Jacks, while senior guard Dillon Bement caught fire from the perimeter, with three of the team’s seven first half 3’s.

Player dribbles to hoop
East senior Dillon Bement drives to the basket while being guarded by Cloquet's Jack Battaglia during a Tuesday game at East High School.
Amy Arntson / Cloquet Pine Journal

The inside-outside attack culminated in a 21-6 run for the home team midway through the half—turning a 10-8 deficit into a commanding 31-14 advantage.

“I think that’s a quality of a good team — a team that you know can battle through the grind of the game and in a moment’s notice can get some quick buckets,” McDonald said. “I think that’s more attributed to just how much these guys have played in the offseason. It’s not any X’s and O’s piece, they run the floor really well. They share it, and when you do that, and you have the ability to shoot it, you have the ability to go on some runs.”

Player takes jump shot
Cloquet junior Malachi Bridge takes a jump shot during a game against Duluth East on Tuesday in Duluth.
Amy Arntson / Cloquet Pine Journal

In the final minutes before halftime, Cloquet sophomore Jack Battaglia provided the sorely-needed counterpunch for the ‘Jacks with back to back 3's to bring the deficit back down to a manageable 10 points at halftime at 42-32.

Any hopes of a comeback bid for Cloquet were dashed in the opening minutes of the second half, however, as the Greyhounds stormed out of the gate with a 13-2 run to make it a 55-34 game behind baskets from Smith and Jobe Juenemann.

Player goes up for layup
Cloquet senior Kollin Bonneville finishes a layup during a game against Duluth East on Tuesday in Duluth.
Amy Arntson / Cloquet Pine Journal

The onslaught continued into the final buzzer with East notching its first win of the season.

Both teams will return to the court Friday night as the Greyhounds (1-0) will travel to Woodbury for their next game, while the Lumberjacks (0-2) will take on Esko on the road.

Player looks for lane
Cloquet senior Reese Sheldon looks for a lane to the basket during a game against Duluth East on Tuesday in Duluth.
Amy Arntson / Cloquet Pine Journal

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Cloquet 32-17--49

Duluth East 42-41--83

Cloquet — Reese Sheldon 6, Joe Bailey 4, Kollin Bonneville 4, Seth Rothamel 8, Malachi Bridge 4, Marco Mayorga 12, Jack Battaglia 11. Totals 18 7-12 49.

3-point goals — Rothamel 2, Sheldon 1, Mayorga 1, Battaglia 2.

Duluth East — Dillon Bement 9, Bryce Miller 9, Brennan Meyer 3, Wyatt Johnson 2, Ty Nyberg 8, Jobe Juenemann 12, Michael Kastelic 10, Peyton Witzman 2, Patrick Smith 10, Rocco Paulson 16, Ben Schingen 2. Totals 33 8/16 83.

3-point goals — Bement 3, Meyer 1, Nyberg 2, Juenemann 2, Kastelic 1.

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