Prep report: Cloquet, Grand Rapids girls set up 7AAA girls basketball rematch

The section final will be Thursday night at Denfeld High School in Duluth.

Cloquet junior Ava Carlson rises up for a shot during a Section 7AAA girls basketball semifinal vs. Hermantown on Friday in Cloquet.
Amy Arntson / Cloquet Pine Journal

Cloquet and Grand Rapids made what seemed likely beforehand certain afterward, booking their slots for a Section 7AAA girls basketball championship rematch with comfortable semifinal victories on Friday night, March 3.

The second-seeded Lumberjacks ousted Hermantown 71-46 at home, outscoring the Hawks by double digits in each half.

Ava Carlson led the way for the 17-10 Lumberjacks, scoring 22 points, but Cloquet had five other players with at least seven points, including 15 from Alexa Snesrud and 10 from Macie Majerle.

Cloquet's Carly Johnson drives in the paint during a Section 7AAA girls basketball semifinal vs. Hermantown on Friday in Cloquet.
Amy Arntson / Cloquet Pine Journal

Hermantown, which concludes its season 7-19, got 19 points from Liv Birkeland.

Grand Rapids, the top seed, extended its win streak to 25 games after an easy 66-26 win over Hibbing in the other semifinal on Friday at Grand Rapids.


Taryn Hamling scored 29 points, Jessika Lofstrom had 17 and Braya LaPlant added 13.

The Thunderhawks (25-2) and Lumberjacks, who met in last year's section final and were the only two teams in the section to enter postseason play with winning records, will play for a berth at the state tournament on Thursday night at Denfeld High School in Duluth.

Liv Birkeland of Hermantown goes up for a layup during the Section 7AAA semifinal vs. Cloquet at Cloquet on Friday.
Amy Arntson / Cloquet Pine Journal


Superior 72, Chippewa Falls 56

The Spartans, and specifically Tre Sanigar, got red-hot on a perfect night on Friday, knocking out the Cardinals in their WIAA Division 1 regional semifinal.

The game was tied at 8 when Sanigar triggered a 16-0 Spartans run with multiple 3-pointers of increasing boldness. Chippewa Falls got up off the mat and pulled the game back into single digits, trailing 32-26 at the half, but Superior came out fast in the second half and put the contest away, avenging a Cardinals win during the regular season.

Sanigar racked up a game-best 31 points on 6 of 11 from the field, including four triples and 7-of-7 from the free-throw line. Daynen Lull added 17 points, while freshman big Calvin Anderson came one board away from a postseason-double, finishing with 15 points and nine rebounds.

Chippewa Falls got 20 points from Mason Monarski.

The good news just kept on coming for the Spartans on Friday. A shocking upset of the No. 1 seed in the sectional, Eau Claire Memorial, on Friday means that No. 16 Oshkosh West is coming to Superior for the regional final on Saturday night.


Northwestern 83, St. Croix Central 74

The third-seeded Tigers grabbed a victory in their Division 3 playoff opener, putting out St. Croix Central in Maple behind 30 points from Jase Nelson.

Northwestern got off to a slow start and was down 38-31 at the break only to surge ahead. Cole Lahti scored 17 of his 19 points in the second half and went on to record 14 rebounds. Grady Gustafson kicked in 12 points for the Tigers.

Jeffrey Pettit scored 20 for St. Croix Central.

Northwestern (23-2) will hit the road for Saturday's regional final against No. 2 seed Prescott, a 93-75 winner over Somerset on Friday.

Solon Springs 91, Winter 68

When the competition level ticked up, Solon Springs responded comfortably, pulling away quickly in the second half to dismiss Winter 91-68 in a WIAA Division 5 regional semifinal on Friday night, March 3 in Solon Springs.

Winter, the No. 8 seed, had the game tied late in the first half before the Eagles finished the period on a 7-0 run to take a 42-35 edge at the break. Solon kept the pressure up and pushed the game in to double digits quickly, scoring 49 points in the second half.

The top-seeded Eagles got 31 big points from Isaiah Kastern, while Dylan Taggart added 24.

Solon (24-1) moves on to a regional final vs. No. 4 Drummond that will be played at Northwood High School on Saturday night.


Esko 95, Brooklyn Center 77

The Eskomos capped their regular season with a big road win on Friday night.

Esko scored 49 points in the first half and maintained the double-digit lead to the end.

Makoi Perich had another huge night of 33 points, and was well-aided: Cuinn Berger scored 19 , Sam Haugen had 16 and Braedyn Male 12.

Esko awaits its seed in the Section 7AA tournament with a record of 22-3.


McPhee starts state meet 2-0

Proctor/Hermantown wrestler Zak McPhee remains in the hunt for a state championship after two comfortable victories in the opening rounds of the Minnesota state individual wrestling tournament on Friday, March 3 at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.

McPhee opened his tournament by pinning Ty Frederick of New Ulm in 1:38, then prevailing via technical fall, 16-0, in the quarterfinals against Brian Thilges of Mankato East.

Only two matches stand between McPhee and a state championship. The first is a semifinal vs. Caden O’Malley of Tri-City United.

The meet concludes with state championship matches on Saturday night.


Both Bryson and Ian Larrabee of Hibbing had 2-1 days, winning their opener, losing in the winner’s bracket quarterfinals and then winning their opening consolation round match.

Thomas Hagen of Hibbing was pinned in his first match of the day.

Rock Ridge’s Damian Tapio and Dutch Hedblom had similar win-loss-win days in their brackets, while Nolan Campbell went 0-2.

Cloquet-Esko-Carlton’s Aiden Thiesen was pinned twice in the 113-AA bracket to conclude his season.

Alex Lehman of Grand Rapids went 2-1 on his first day of competition, winning his opener by fall, losing in the quarterfinals on a major decision and winning his first consolation round match in sudden victory over Sean O’Brien of Totino-Grace to keep his tournament going.

Justin Jobe lost a pair of narrow decisions for the Thunderhawks, while Clayton Danielson was defeated via a technical fall in the 285-AA bracket, 16-0 vs. Brady Rhode of Dawson-Boyd/Lac qui Parle/Montivideo United.


State preliminaries

Duluth’s Grant Wodny had no problems putting himself in position to defend his twin state championships after qualifying through preliminaries on Friday night at the University of Minnesota’s Freeman Aquatic Center.

Wodny comfortably reached the A final in the 200-yard freestyle (fourth in 1:41.49) and 500 free (second in 4:37.05).


In Class A competition earlier in the day, Gunnar George of Rock Ridge qualified third for the A finals in the 50 free (21.40) and 100 butterfly (51.25).

Carter Steele of Mesabi East was the No. 7 qualifier in the 100 free (48.59)

Hibbing will take the No. 4 spot in the 200 free relay final.

Finals will be Saturday afternoon in Class A and Saturday evening in AA.

Hermantown's Emma Herstad drives into a double team of Cloquet players during a Section 7AAA semifinal on Friday night in Cloquet.
Amy Arntson / Cloquet Pine Journal



Esko 95, Brooklyn Center 77

Two Harbors 62, Barnum 45

Chisholm 79, Bigfork 45

Cromwell-Wright 46, Nashwauk-Keewatin 44

Cherry 91, Mesabi East 29

Fond du Lac Ojibwe 64, Ely 57

Duluth Denfeld 51, Grand Rapids 48


Section 7AAA Semifinals

Grand Rapids 66, Hibbing 26

Cloquet 71, Hermantown 46

Our newsroom occasionally reports stories under a byline of "staff." Often, the "staff" byline is used when rewriting basic news briefs that originate from official sources, such as a city press release about a road closure, and which require little or no reporting. At times, this byline is used when a news story includes numerous authors or when the story is formed by aggregating previously reported news from various sources. If outside sources are used, it is noted within the story.
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