Esko's boys basketball team is peaking at the right time, and their coach ought to know. Mike Devney, the veteran coach who is retiring at the end of this season, says his team (25-4) is playing very well after the 62-44 win Tuesday, March 13, over Proctor, setting up the Friday, March 16, section final against Virginia (24-5). "We played really well," Devney said. "We played some good basketball. The kids were intense and I have to give Proctor a lot of credit for being the team they are to bring that out of our kids."
The top-seeded Esko Eskomos were without towering center Adam Trapp, but still won their Section 7AA first-round playoff game Tuesday, March 6. The Eskomos (23-4) defeated eighth-seed Pierz (4-23) by 64-50 at Esko. Coach Mike Devney suggested that discretion was the better part of valor in not playing Trapp, who banged his knee on the floor in a late-season game at Two Harbors. "He got undercut and slammed his knee into the wood, and he had a pretty deep bone bruise," Devney said. "He dressed for Pierz and we warmed him up, but decided not to play him."
The Minnesota Wilderness took a big step toward securing a North American Hockey League playoff position in recent weeks, with a March 2-3 home split against Bismarck putting the team in third place, three points ahead of the Bobcats with 10 games to play.
There's a tug of war going on in communities all over the nation, and, like politics, it never seems to end. One season ends. The next begins. But in smaller communities, many of the players stay the same. Except when they don't. And there's the rub. Allow me to explain. Carlton County schools, and many in northeastern Minnesota for that matter, are dependent on two- and three-sport athletes to put teams on their fields of play. Enrollment isn't at the point where schools can have specialists. I'll give you an example.
The Hilltoppers, who were playing at Cloquet in the quarterfinals for the third consecutive year, raced off to a 3-0 first period lead and led 6-2 after two, with Aaron Moore and Landon Langenbrunner scoring the goals. The third period, though, belonged to the home team, which outshot Marshall 18-2 in the session and got goals from Branden Matteen and Langenbrunner, but could draw no closer.
The Lumberjacks won their first dual meet in the Section 7AA tournament 54-30 over Greenway/Nashwauk-Keewatin, but were eliminated 59-16 by Grand Rapids in the second round. With the individual section meet scheduled for Friday, Feb. 23, and Saturday, Feb. 24, in Milaca, there's one more chance for Denman's wrestlers to shine
After last weekend's split with the Janesville Jets, the Wilderness stand in third place in the Central Division — and play all 16 of their remaining games against teams currently behind them in the standings. "We do control our own destiny," coach Tim Madsen said. "If the players decide they want to reach the goal (of making the playoffs), that's within them to do."
The Lumberjacks saw their season end with a heartbreaking 1-0 quadruple-overtime loss to Hibbing-Chisholm Thursday night in Cloquet, while the Rebels fell 3-1 in their quarterfinal game at International Falls.
"We came out as a team and played really well," Weber said, "We didn't try to do anything special. Sometimes, you just really work well together as a team. We played good defense and had multiple scorers, which hasn't always been the case with us." The game against Carlton was Cromwell's only game of the week, giving Gronner and his team a chance to rest, recuperate and get ready for the stretch run.
"We have done well on defense and Bridget has been a difference-maker in the post," Antonutti said. "We have good players on the base of our zone and it has shown."