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Wrenshall tipped by Two Harbors' last-second bucket

A year ago, Joel Swanson's Wrenshall boys basketball team won with defense - but this winter, things are a little different. With just four seconds left, the Wrens failed to shut down Two Harbors forward Ryan Guentzel. The senior buried the game-...

Aaron Gustafson
Wrenshall's Aaron Gustafson is pressured by Two Harbors but scores a bucket for the Wrens in Friday's 59-58 loss to the Agates. Jamie Lund/Pine Journal

A year ago, Joel Swanson's Wrenshall boys basketball team won with defense - but this winter, things are a little different.

With just four seconds left, the Wrens failed to shut down Two Harbors forward Ryan Guentzel. The senior buried the game-winner to lift the Agates to a thrilling 59-58 Polar League victory Friday night in Wrenshall.

"He nailed an off-balance jumper," said Swanson, who's in his 16th season with the Wrens. "It was a difficult loss for us, but we definitely had our opportunities and just couldn't get the job done."

Trailing 30-28 at halftime, Wrenshall took the lead late and with just seconds remaining, they crossed their fingers hoping to earn their first victory of the young season.

That's when Guentzel got the ball.

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"It takes us a while to get going this year," said Swanson about the Wrens' slow first-half starts this winter. "We've come out slow in all four of our games and just force ourselves to battle back. We've been in positions to win late, but mistakes have just cost us."

Wrenshall (0-4), which was known for its lock-down defense last season, has surprising lapsed in that category early this year, despite having six seniors on their roster.

"Last season we we're strong defensively, but we really have to improve this year," said Swanson. "And that comes with inexperience. We have a number of upperclassmen on the team, but they don't have much varsity experience and that's made it pretty tough so far."

The Wrens lost half a dozen experienced seniors from a year ago, including all-conference standouts Jordan Berglund and John Moder.

The Wrens have improved every game after suffering a 25-point loss at Floodwood to open the season. Since then, Wrenshall has fallen by 14 at Moose Lake-Willow River, 13 versus AlBrook and by just a single point Friday night.

"We're moving in the right direction," said Swanson. "The boys are working hard, getting better and I heard a lot of good comments about them Friday night. People like what they see around here. It'll take us a while, but we'll get it going, I know it."

Senior center Aaron Gustafson led the Wrenshall attack Friday with 18 points, while fellow senior forward David Connor posted 16. Junior guard Brett Johnson also collected 14 points. Five Wrens found the basket in the last-second loss.

Along with his game-winner, Guentzel tallied a game-best 22 points to pace the Agates.

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Wrenshall looked for its first win Tuesday night at conference foe McGregor when this edition of the Pine Journal went to press. The Wrens will be back on the hardwood Jan. 5 when they host rival Esko in another Polar League clash.

Related Topics: BASKETBALLWRENSHALL
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