Prep girls basketball: Quick start powers Duluth Marshall past Cloquet
Sophomore Regan Juenemann led all scorers with 27 points.
CLOQUET — A 27-point night by Duluth Marshall sophomore Regan Juenemann helped fuel a decisive 76-54 road win over Cloquet, Thursday, Jan. 26 at Cloquet Middle School.
The Hilltoppers stormed out of the gates with a momentum-building 9-0 scoring run that set the tone for the remainder of the contest, according to head coach C.J. Osuchukwu.
“It was super big,” Osuchukwu said of his team’s fast start. “We have a really young team so confidence is the biggest thing we’ve just been trying to work on this year. We took some hard L’s earlier in the year, and so now we’re just trying to get a good run going into the playoffs and being ready for sections.”
The loss for Cloquet was its second in a row in what’s been a tough stretch for the club offensively. Head coach Heather Young pointed to consistency across both halves as the key to getting back on the right track.
“(We saw) glimpses of great things, but just not a lot in a row,” Young said of the team's performance. “So to put together two halves of basketball, we definitely have to have more shining moments than what we’ve been having these last couple of games. So we just gotta figure it out.”
The Lumberjacks were forced to play catch-up for the entirety of the first half as the Hilltoppers found their scoring touch early with a 9-0 run behind baskets by Juenemann and Chloe Johnson.
Juenemann went on to score 15 of her game-high 27 points in the opening 18 minutes of play while Johnson poured in 11.
The growing deficit provided a jolt for the Lumberjacks as Ava Carlson and Quinn Danielson helped push the club back to within four at 16-12, but could not keep up the rest of the way as the Hilltoppers caught fire from beyond the arc.
The visitors hit eight of their 14 3-point shots in the first half led by Ada Skafte with three. The result was a 48-29 advantage at the break.
The team’s success from beyond the arc was complimented by a strong showing on the glass, according to Osuchukwu.
“That’s been our big emphasis is just rebounding because we’re so small,” Osuchukwu said. “All five players have to crash the boards and go after the ball so I’m just happy we did that tonight.”
Cloquet switched up its defensive strategy in the second half with a move to a 3-2 zone. The change led to multiple steals and fast break opportunities the other way.
“We actually left it up to the girls at halftime,” Young said….”Sometimes if you feel like you can give your players that ownership they’re going to work a little harder and that’s what you saw tonight was we started to do some things a lot better and so that was great.”
The deficit was far too great to battle back from, however, as Duluth Marshall rolled to a 76-54 victory.
The Lumberjacks will be on the road for their next four games beginning with a Saturday, Jan. 28 matchup against North Branch at noon. The Hilltoppers will host International Falls, Saturday, at 2 p.m.