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Cloquet finds groove before section playoffs


March 6, 2020

All season long, the Cloquet boys basketball team has struggled to close out games that were close at halftime. But not on Friday night, when the team closed out the regular season with a 52-48 win on the road in Proctor.

The game was even at 27-27 at halftime, but the Lumberjacks were able to slip ahead and pull out the win.

“We just kept battling. It’s easier to keep winning than it is to start winning,” said Cloquet coach Steve Battaglia. “We were coming off of two wins earlier in the week and we just got the job done when we had to, despite playing sub-par overall. It’s nice to win on nights that you don’t have your best.”

The pace of the game was slow as the Rails relied on getting the ball on the inside to Dylan Hom, who finished with 18 points.

“The whole game was slow, which is what they wanted. We wanted to play much faster, but we didn’t have Tyler Issendorf who was out sick,” Battaglia said. “Izzy (Issendorf) controls the pace for us and we missed that.”

A huge key to the win for Cloquet was its ability to get to the free-throw line as the ’Jacks went 14-for-16 from the line.

“We’ve been much more aggressive in attacking the paint and good things happen when you get to the paint,” Battaglia said.

Alec Turnbull led Cloquet with 14 points, Adam Schneider added 13 and it was 10 for Dylan Heehn.

The Lumberjacks have now won three straight games by beating North Branch, Crosby-Ironton and Proctor to wrap up the regular season. They did so without Issendorf and without Markus Pokornowski, who has been out after suffering a broken nose earlier this season.

Earlier in the season the ’Jacks relied mostly on the scoring of Schneider and Pokornowski, but as of late other players have all ratcheted up their scoring.

“It’s been huge having Heehn, Turnbull, and Issendorf scoring in double figures,” exclaimed Battaglia. “We’re a completely different team when they get involved offensively.”

Caleb Hanson chipped in with eight points for the ’Jacks, Jack Sorenson scored five and Nate Blatchford had two.

The win improved the Lumberjacks record to 9-17 and they received the No. 6 seed for the Section 7AAA tournament.

UPDATE: Cloquet opened on the road at Hibbing on Wednesday night and lost 72-60, ending the season.


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