Cloquet bounces into 7AAA semifinals

 

March 1, 2024

Dan Saletel

Cloquet's Nattie Butler pops up for a shot among a host of Hibbing players in Cloquet Thursday during a 58-27 win for the home team.

Meeting for the third time this season Wednesday night, Cloquet dispatched Hibbing with ease, 56-20, in the quarterfinals of the Section 7AAA tournament.

The Lumberjacks will move on to play in the Section 7AAA semifinals at 1 p.m. Saturday at home against the winner of Grand Rapids and Chisago Lakes. Cloquet did not play Chisago Lakes during the season, but they did play Grand Rapids twice. Both times the Lumberjacks came out on top.

The Lumberjacks first win against Hibbing this season came in mid-January when they won by 17 points, and last week the 'Jacks won by 31. Wednesday's 36-point spread was the largest of the three games.

Cloquet wasted little time establishing their dominance as they rolled to a 34-5 halftime lead, employing a pressure defense which caused the Blue Jackets to turn the ball over numerous times. The 'Jacks parlayed the turnovers into points as they cruised to intermission.

"I love when our defense plays like they did tonight," said Cloquet head coach Heather Young after the game. "Our defense created a lot of mishaps for them and caused them to turn the ball over a lot."

The Lumberjacks used its entire arsenal of scoring weapons against the Blue Jackets: scoring from the inside, the outside and on fast breaks.

"A lot of our offense was created by our defense, but we also had Carly Johnson doing a good job of finding lanes on the backside of the zone and Ava Carlson was moving from block to block and keeping their zone guessing as to what we were doing," Young said.

Quinn Danielson led the Cloquet offensive attack with a game-high 13 points. She was joined in double-digit scoring by Ava Carlson and Carly Johnson, who each finished with 10 points. Both Leillani Fonoti and Rylie Goranson chipped in 6 points, while Tenique Moose, Isabella Bridge and Lauren Hughes scored 3 each. Kylie Issendorf finished with 2.

Katherin Toewe led the Blue Jackets with 6 points.

"We handled Toewe and Jorie Anderson with our defense really well tonight," Young said. "Kylie (Issendorf) did a good job on Anderson and our inside players did a good job on Toewe."

While Cloquet created a lot of turnovers, it was hit by the turnover bug too - struggling at times to maintain control of the basketball.

"We need to stay intense all game long," Young said. "Sometimes we get too loose with the ball and we can't afford to do that at this time of year."

*******

First round playoff results, schedule

Dan Saletel

Ava Carlson gets a shot up and over Hibbing's Katherine Toewe during Thursday's game in Cloquet.

Class 7A

South Ridge 87, Silver Bay 61

Floodwood 43, Carlton/Wrenshall 30

Cromwell vs Fond du Lac, 6 p.m. Thursday

Class 7AA

Esko vs International Falls, 6 p.m. Thursday

ML/WR vs Mesabi East, 6 p.m. Thursday

Class 7AAA

Cloquet 56 Hibbing 20

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