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Hungry Raptors get best of FDL

Kerry Rodd

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When Carlton/Wrenshall and Fond du Lac Ojibwe girls basketball met on the court Jan. 4 in a game featuring two young teams hungry for a win. In the end, the depth of the combined Raptors overcame the big three of FDL for a 67-53 win in Carlton.

Playing in their first season as a combined basketball team, Carlton/Wrenshall has been guided this season by Emma Grover, a former star player for the Wrenshall Wrens.

"It has been pretty seamless putting the team together this season," Grover said. "The girls are all familiar with each other, so it has been super-fun getting them together."

The Raptors led 31-29 at halftime but struggled to contain the Ogichidaa's Navaeh Defoe, Natash Reynolds and Sadie Buckanaga.

"Those three are just outstanding players for us," said Ogichidaa coach Stacie Marsolek. "It is tough for them, because the rest of our team have never really played much, if any, basketball."

Defoe, Reynolds and Buckanaga were hot in the first half and that had the Raptors on their heels, but eventually Carlton/Wrenshall was able to slowly pull away over the second half by utilizing their depth to attack the FDL zone defense.

"We really struggled early in the game with turnovers," Grover said. "As a team we are small in height, but we are quick and we used our speed to our advantage."

Defoe led all scorers with 25 points and Reynolds added 15 while Buckanaga recorded 12 points for the Ogichidaa. Persais Peguio chipped in with a point for FDL to round out their scoring.

"We are so young both in age and in experience," Marsolek said. "I would take our top three players against any three players on any other team. Those three put in the extra work to get better. We don't have the numbers and that's what hurts us, but we'll keep working at it and the more inexperienced players will hopefully get that experience."

Carlton/Wrenshall had five players in double-digit scoring, including Liberty Seliskar (14), Ave Jenne (12), Megan Matarelli (11) and 10 points each for Liz Johnson and Brielle Simula.

"Much like Fond du Lac, we are a very young team," said Grover. "We have three ninth-graders who had never played before, so we spend a majority of our time teaching basic skills and working on perfecting the simpler things."

Rounding out the scoring for the Raptors were Tiffany Meade with 4, and Sara Cid and Myleena Ojibway with 2 each.

The loss dropped the Ogichidaa record to 0-3 while the win moved the Raptors record to 2-7 overall.