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Cloquet boys basketball are comeback kings

After stumbling on Feb. 21 in a road loss to Duluth Denfeld, the Cloquet boys basketball team bounced back with impressive back-to-back home wins over Grand Rapids and Providence Academy Friday and Saturday.

"We put all of our coaching efforts into the Friday game against Grand Rapids because it has big seeding implications for us," said Lumberjacks head coach Steve Battaglia. "We played our best half of the year in the first half against Rapids, and then we were in trouble in the first half against Providence."

The Lumberjacks manhandled the Thunderhawks and easily won 71-52, but against Providence on Saturday they were down by 17 points early in the game, mainly due to Lions forward Dylan Perrill and his 22 first-half points.

"We knew nothing about him because we really focused on Grand Rapids and we treated him like an Average Joe in the first half," Battaglia said. "We looked up, and he had 20 points, so we knew we had to change things up at the half."

Trailing at halftime 43-36, the Lumberjacks made the decision to take turns guarding Perrill with two of their best athletes, Reese Sheldon and Kollin Bonneville. The duo held Perrill to just seven second-half points and Perrill finished with a game-high 29 points.

The Lumberjacks won it going away, by a score of 68-61.

"They took the challenge seriously and they did a great job on him in the second half," Battaglia said.

The Lumberjacks offense turned the ball over less in the second half and showed more patience. They also rode the shooting of Bonneville and Jack Battaglia, who finished ,with 18 points each. Battaglia knocked down 10 in the second half, Bonneville added six in the second stanza as did Sheldon. Marco Mayorga finished with 13 points after a strong first half.

For the game, Sheldon finished with six, Seth Rothamel and Joe Bailey scored five each, and Izaiah Carrier finished with three points.

"That second half we moved the ball much better and had better shot selection," said coach Battaglia. "Right now we are playing as well as we have all year. With one game left, who knows how this will play out."

The 'Jacks were set to play at home Thursday against Proctor.

"If Grand Rapids beats Denfeld this week and we do our job against Proctor, there is a legit shot at us getting to that No. 4 seed," Battaglia said.

The back-to-back wins improved Cloquet's record to 12-13 on the season.

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