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Cardinals overwhelm Bombers


December 6, 2019

Dan Saletel

Cromwell-Wright's Andrea Pocernich blocks the progress of Barnum's Kyra Heaton during Monday's game in Cromwell. The Cardinal dominated the Bombers, winning 76-17.

An impressive shutdown defensive effort by the Cromwell-Wright girls basketball team helped to propel the Cards to a 76-17 win over the Bombers Monday night in Cromwell.

"Our defense is the strength of our team," said Cards coach Jeff Gronner. "We have some skilled offensive players, but our overall strength of our team is defense and we showed that on Monday night."

After Barnum cut the lead early in the game to 8-4, the Cards went on a massive 37-6 run to close out the first half and take a 45-10 lead into the locker room at halftime. Despite trailing the entire game by an insurmountable margin the young Bombers kept fighting.

"I told the girls just to keep working hard and keep doing things we learned in practice," said first-year Barnum coach AJ Palmer. "Obviously, we are a pretty young and inexperienced team so it was encouraging to see them fight all game-long without worrying about the scoreboard."

The Cards are currently No. 2 in the Minnesota Basketball News rankings, and so far this season they look the part with the defense controlling the pace and creating havoc for opposing teams.

"We like to create turnovers and push the pace," Gronner said, adding that Taya Hakamaki played very well. "She creates so many steals and easy opportunities for others."

Hakamaki finished with 23 points while Shaily Hakamaki added 11 points. Both Natalie Hakamaki and Andrea Pocernich added nine points. Emmalee Hoover added six points, while Amber Collman and Jordan Jokinen finished with five points apiece. Sascha Korpela chipped in with four points and both Katherine Libbon and Lacie Zollar added two points.

"We return seven girls with varsity starting experience plus five other girls with varsity playing time, so depth and experience is a strength of this team," Gronner said. "We don't worry about the score in games like that, and instead we just focus on ourselves and play hard."

Allison Marine led the Bombers with six points, Makenzee Schleret added five points, Rayna Klejeski finished with three points, Olivia Bogenholm had two points and Madison Warnygora had a point.

"Cromwell is one of the best teams in the state and they present all kinds of problems both on offense and on defense," Palmer said. "They're well-coached, fast, can shoot well and have good chemistry together. Coach Gronner has done a very good job with that team and they are definitely the team to strive to beat."


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