Prep girls basketball: Sharp-shooting Superior overwhelms Cloquet for 14th straight win

Senior Savannah Leopold led the Spartans with 17 points.

Player goes up for layup
Kloe Zentkowski of Superior goes up for a layup during a game against Cloquet on Tuesday, Jan. 24 at Cloquet Middle School.
Amy Arntson / Cloquet Pine Journal
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CLOQUET — A lights-out shooting performance led by four players in double figures helped the Superior Spartans notch their 14th consecutive victory in a 66-23 triumph over Cloquet on Tuesday at Cloquet Middle School.

Senior Savannah Leopold poured in a game-high 17 points, which included three of the team’s eight made field goals from beyond the arc. Eva Peterson (10), Emma Raye (12) and Ava Stratton (11) provided an additional scoring boost for the visitors.

Head coach Dave Kontny pointed to the team’s quick ball movement and shot-selection as the key to their red-hot shooting night.

“I thought on offense we were patient,” Kontny said. “We were shooting like 60 something percent in the first half, but we were getting good looks …. When we’re playing like that, we’re playing smart, and then we’re playing better.”

The Spartans proved equally efficient on the defensive end of the floor, holding the Lumberjacks to 16 points in both halves behind their 1-2-2 zone defense.


Player looks for opening
Cloquet's Alexa Snesrud looks for an open pass during a game against Superior, Tuesday, Jan. 24 at Cloquet Middle School.
Amy Arntson / Cloquet Pine Journal

“We knew it was going to be a tough battle. We totally respect their program and what they’ve done this season and what they’re going to do,” Cloquet head coach Heather Young said. “I felt like we had prepared for this. I just think that they’re a team that just never quits. They just go 100% all the time.”

The Lumberjacks were forced to battle back from a double-digit deficit minutes into the first half after a flurry of fast-break layups followed by a trio of long-range 3’s by Stratton guided the Spartans to a 17-7 lead. Moments later, the advantage grew to 24-7 after a 7-0 scoring run.

In an otherwise tough shooting night for the home team, Ava Carlson provided a much-needed scoring boost in the paint with multiple second-chance baskets to lead her team with six points in the first half, and 16 overall for the game.

Player is guarded by basket
Ava Carlson of Cloquet is guarded by Superior's Emma Raye during a Tuesday, Jan. 24 game at Cloquet Middle School.
Amy Arntson / Cloquet Pine Journal

Young lauded the junior for her effort down low for the Lumberjacks.

“I don’t even know how many (rebounds) she had for us tonight but what a workhorse down there,” Young said. “Just so solid and she created those second chances for our team as well and did a great job down there. So that was really nice to see.”

Despite Carlson’s best efforts on the post, the Spartans remained in the driver’s seat into halftime with a commanding 23-point lead.

Out of the break, the Lumberjacks continued to fight in the second half in spite of the lopsided score, but were unable to gain any ground against the high-scoring Spartans, who outscored Cloquet 27-16 in the final 18 minutes of play.

Player sets up for shot
Cloquet's Kiley Issendorf sets up for a 3-point shot during a game against Superior, Tuesday, Jan. 24 at Cloquet Middle School.
Amy Arntson / Cloquet Pine Journal

Young appreciated the effort put forth by her team knowing the game was out of reach.


“I’m really proud of our girls for not packing it in in the second half,” Young said. "I mean that second half could have been way worse, and it definitely was not. But credit to Superior, they just shot the ball so well and we just really struggled on the offensive end and then, you know, answering defensively.

The Spartans (15-1) will be on the road for their next matchup against Eau Claire North, Saturday, Jan. 28, at 4 p.m. The Lumberjacks (12-3) will host Duluth Marshall on Thursday, Jan. 26, at 7:15 p.m.

Superior 39-27--66

Cloquet 16-16--32

Superior -- Annabel Manion 4, Kloe Zentkowski 6, Savannah Leopold 17, Emma Raye 12, Ava Stratton 11, Eva Peterson 10, Lauren Gunderson 6. Totals 26 6-8 66.

3-point goals -- Leopold 3, Stratton 3, Peterson 2.

Cloquet -- Ava Carlson 16, Alexa Snesrud 4, Kiley Issendorf 4, Macie Majerle 4, Carly Johnson 2, Lauren Hughes 2. Totals 15 1-2 32.

3-point goals -- Issendorf 1.

Superior's Emma Raye makes a pass to a teammate during a game against Cloquet on Tuesday, Jan. 24 at Cloquet Middle School.
Amy Arntson / Cloquet Pine Journal
Cloquet High School grad Aidan Ripp was one of six student-athletes competing for Team USA in the Nordic Combined event at the 2023 FISU World University Games in Lake Placid, New York.

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