Prep report: Spartans, Eagles denied in sectional finals
Superior got blown out by Neenah, while Solon Springs couldn't close out a 13-point second-half lead and lost to McDonell Central Catholic in overtime.
Douglas County's day ended in disappointment on WIAA boys basketball section final Saturday as Superior was routed 93-65 by Neenah in Division 1, while Solon Springs lost an overtime heartbreaker to McDonell Central Catholic in Division 5.
At Wisconsin Rapids, the Spartans ran into a buzzsaw, as the No. 6 seeded Rockets scored 50 points in the first half and led by 31 at halftime against a Superior squad trying to make its first run to state since 1974.
Brady Corso drilled four 3-pointers for the Rockets in the first half, in which he, Luke Jung and Jackson Schlomann all scored 12 points.
With the big lead, Neenah closed it out for their third trip to Madison for the state tournament in the last four seasons.
Schlomann finished with a game-high 24 points, while Jung had 19 and Corso 16.
For Superior, which entered the tournament seeded eighth, junior Tre Sanigar scored 18 points, while freshman Calvin Anderson scored 14. The Spartans finish their season 15-12.
McDonell Central Catholic 58, Solon Springs 56 (OT)
The Eagles found themselves tantalizingly close to the state tournament in Madison but could not close out the No. 1-ranked team in Wisconsin Division 5.
Solon Springs led 34-29 at the half behind four 3-pointers from Dylan Taggart and then pushed its lead into double digits over the course of the second half. The Eagles led 50-37 around the six-minute mark of the second half, but the Macs made a big push that got them all the way to even inside the final minute of regulation.
The Eagles held the ball for a last shot in regulation but a long 3 at the end of regulation drew iron, sending the game to overtime.
In the OT, McDonell Central's Aidan Misfeldt made two of his six treys on back-to-back possessions to put the Eagles, who had multiple fouls to give, in trouble. The Eagles fouled to get the ball back and the Macs missed the front end of consecutive one-and-ones only to rebound their own miss.
Solon had the ball and a two-point deficit with a chance to tie or take the lead twice in the last 10 seconds but couldn't get a shot to fall, leading to only their second loss of the year (the other coming to Superior in December).
Taggart led the Eagles with 19 points, 15 of them in the first half. Isaiah Kastern and Owen Smith scored 11 points apiece. They finish 26-2.
Canan Huss added 11 for the Macs (28-1).
Solon Springs, in the sectional tournament for the first time in school history, finishes 26-2.
Cambridge-Isanti 73, Duluth East 54
The Greyhounds got themselves into a hole from which they could not escape, as Cambridge-Isanti eliminated East from the Section 7AAA semifinals on Saturday in Princeton.
The Bluejackets took a 35-20 lead into halftime, forcing East to play from behind the rest of the way.
John Troolin of C-I led all scorers with 24 points.
For East, Jobe Juenemann had a team-best 18 and Dillon Bement added 13. The 'Hounds end their season with a 20-8 record.
Two Harbors 56, Crosby-Ironton 50
The Agates got 27 points from Trent Gomez to become the only lower seed to win one of the four Section 7AA quarterfinals at Hermantown High School on Saturday.
Ethan Bopp added 12 points for Two Harbors (24-4), which will face top-seeded Pequot Lakes at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday in Hermantown in the first of two 7AA semifinals. The Patriots routed Pillager 77-32 in the opener.
Esko 78, Aitkin 33
The second-seeded Eskomos dominated from the opening tap, outscoring the Gobblers 49-15 over the first half to roll into 7A's final four.
Dalton Spindler led the charge, scoring 18 points. Koi Perich added 15 and Cuinn Berger 11, but Esko (24-3) had the offense working from all corners. Ten Eskomos scored, seven of them making 3-pointers.
Rock Ridge 70, Moose Lake/Willow River 63
The Wolverines pulled away in the second half to earn a shot at Esko in Wednesday night's semifinals.
Noah Mitchell put down 19 points to pace the third-seeded Wolverines (20-8), who outscored the Rebels 37-28 after the break.
Carter Mavec, Casey Aune and Zane Lokken combined to knock down nine 3-pointers, and all three scored in double figures, led by Aune's 14 points. Lokken had 13 and Mavec 12.
The sixth-seeded Rebels got 18 points from Adam Neumann and 17 from Nolan Nelson but their season ends 16-12.
Mountain Iron-Buhl 62, Fond du Lac Ojibwe 61
A pair of Jordan Zubich free throws inside the last 20 seconds allowed the fourth-seeded Rangers to squeak out a win over the Ogichidaag in a Section 7A quarterfinal Saturday at Denfeld High School in Duluth.
Despite the late one-point lead and multiple looks to regain it on the last posession of the game, the Ogichidaag couldn't find a game-winner.
Jordell Brown had 15 of his 19 points in the first half for Fond du Lac (13-9), which got 15 points from Dannin Savage.
Zubich finished with 33 for MIB (21-7).
Deer River 76, Chisholm 63
Five Warriors scored in double figures as the top seed advanced to face MIB in the first of two semifinals on Wednesday night at Romano Gym.
Cale Johnson led the way with 24 points, including four 3-pointers, three of them in the second half as Deer River pulled away from a 33-33 halftime tie.
Four players scored in double figured for the Bluestreaks, led by 16 from Philip Bernard. July Abernathey and Ethan Lauzen had 15 each. Chisholm ends its season 16-12.
Cherry 105, North Woods 76
The Tigers strolled into a 7A semifinal vs. Northland on Wednesday, with Isaac Asuma dropping 24 points in the first half alone. Noah Sundquist added 18 in the first period as the second-seeded Tigers (24-4) took a 58-38 lead into the locker room.
Asuma finished with 36 points and Sundquist 22.
Northland knocked off Ely 93-59 in the fourth and final quarterfinal.
MIB, Minneota slated for rematch
Mountain Iron-Buhl claimed the top seed at the MSHSL state girls basketball tournament that begins on Thursday in Minneapolis but with it came a familiar opponent and cautionary tale.
The top-seeded Rangers (27-3) were drawn against unseeded Minneota (21-8), the same team that, while unseeded, eliminated them 51-48 in last year's quarterfinals en route to a state runner-up finish.
This year's edition will be at 11 a.m. on Thursday at Maturi Pavilion on the University of Minnesota campus.
Grand Rapids, the only other Northland team to reach state in girls basketball this year, was seeded fifth in AAA. The Thunderhawks, who haven't lost since starting the season 0-2, will face No. 4 Stewartville in a noon game at Maturi Pavilion on Wednesday afternoon. Rapids was third and Stewartville fourth in the most recent state poll.
The Thunderhawks (26-2) may have to make a state run without guard Taryn Hamling. The NDSU commit was "not currently with the team, and is unlikely to be available for the state tournament," coach Kris Hamling said after the Thunderhawks defeated Cloquet for the Section 7AAA championship on Thursday night in Duluth.
Hermantown 2, Orono 0
The Hawks ended their season with a win on Xcel Energy Center ice, just not in the game they wanted on Saturday morning.
Drew Nelson scored both of Hermantown's goals and goaltender Garron Opsahl posted a shutout as the Hawks capped their season by winning the Class A third-place game. The game was deadlocked until Nelson opened the scoring with 12 seconds left in the second period. He added a second goal on the power play 6:24 into the third.
Opsahl, a senior, made 15 saves for his fifth shutout of the season and the 15th of his three-year varsity career.
The Hawks finish their season 27-3-1.