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Raptors' opening win streak snapped

The Carlton/Wrenshall Raptors had some momentum going into the inaugural boys basketball season for the paired schools, reeling off four straight victories in wins over Cook County, East Central, Mille Lacs and Hinckley-Finlayson.

The team finally met its match Monday, losing to Cook's North Woods Grizzlies, 81-66. The loss to the Section 7A powerhouse marred what had been a perfect start for the Raptors.

"The guys have really come together and are excited about the progress they are making," said head coach Shawn Filipiak. "We had a chance to get them together to play in a league this summer and they just gelled from day one."

"We knew this would be our toughest game up to this point, and that is exactly how it played out," Filipiak added.

The gym in Wrenshall was raucous and loud and the Raptors held an three-point lead late in the first half, only to have the Grizzlies storm back with a late 3-pointer to tie the score at 35.

"I was happy with that first half, but then the early part of the second half the game got away from us," Filipiak said.

The Grizzlies went on a 24-3 tear to start the second half. Overall, they were led by 30 points from Louie Panichi and 27 from Jonah Burnett on their way to victory.

While North Woods relied mainly on two players to score, the Raptors had six players in the scoring column. Four of those players were in double digits.

Luukas Korpela led the Raptors with 18 points, Jackson Korpela had 15, Sam Ojibway 12 and A.J. Olesen scored 11. Uriah Loucks put in nine and Carter Woodall had three.

"It was a physical, tight game, and for a while there was a lid on the basket for us and we couldn't score," Filipiak said.

Filipiak is encouraged about his new team.

"There is no reason to hang our heads," he said. "It won't alter how we go about our business. The game was tight at the half and we bounced back after they made their run, so there are a lot of things we can be encouraged by."

A philosophical Filipiak had some thoughts about the remainder of the season.

"This gave us a chance to see what we need to work on," Filipiak said. "It will teach us what to expect against top-notch teams. We will need to learn to finish at the rim better and to avoid turnovers, but I am optimistic. This is all part of the growing process, we'll learn from it and move on."

The Raptors are now 4-1. The team was scheduled to host McGregor on Thursday and will travel to Cherry and Chisholm after the new year starts.

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