After a four-game winning streak helped right their ship, the team is within five points of first-place Austin in the NAHL Central Division. That's the half-full part. The half-empty part is that the Wilderness (12-12-1) are in fifth place and two points out of last. That's because the Central is easily the league's most competitive division, with only seven points separating the six teams in the standings.
"There's no doubt about that," Costley said. "We are in a total rebuild right now and everyone knows that. But there's no shortage of hard work from these kids and they know that they're building something for the future."
> The Lumberjacks defeated Hermantown 64-63 in overtime, keeping Hermantown winless in its sixth game of the season. Of course, the season started late because of the rousing success of the Cloquet football team. Twelve of the 17 players on coach Steve Battaglia's varsity roster played football — and as such, got a week off after the Prep Bowl to simply rest. As a result, the Hermantown game wasn't pretty.
> Instead, all the rain came inside — in the form of three-pointers from a red-hot Cardinals team. Senior Teana Hakamaki hit a school record 10 three-point shots, including her first five attempts in a row, as the Cardinals raced to a 78-51 victory over Barnum. Hakamaki's 10 treys came on only 16 attempts as the Cardinals grabbed an 18-2 lead, holding the Bombers off for the rest of the evening.
"We're legitimately 10 or 11 players deep on the varsity," Devney said. "We had some injuries to deal with over the summer but our younger players played an awful lot of basketball."
"It's like something new," Smalley said. "It doesn't matter what you have coming back, it's about getting used to the kids and seeing how they adapt to a new guy in charge. It makes a difference when you return a lot of kids, and these kids are pretty good."<
> "You could say it was definitely an interesting game," coach Courtney Olin said. "An offensive game."
Trevor Micucci stopped 16 of 19 shots in goal for the Wilderness before 1,172 fans. The next night, it was the second period that did in the Wilderness in a 5-3 loss in Austin. Likourezos, Ben Ward and former East Greyhound Ash Altmann scored for the Wilderness but a four-goal barrage by the home team helped the Bruins to the sweep.
Suominen finished in a dead heat for third place in her other specialty event, the 100-yard freestyle. In that race, another Hutchinson youngster, sophomore Lexi Kucera, won in 51.12 seconds. Suominen touched in 51.89 seconds, tying her with Visitation sophomore Ava Hoffman for third place.
"The junior varsity kids especially are learning things about the pace of the game," Olin said. "They have to make a big step and they need to learn to play the game the right way."