7A girls playoffs: Cromwell-Wright, South Ridge remain


March 8, 2024

Dan Saletel

Fond du Lac's Rainna Shabaiash takes the ball down court to set up a play against Cromwell-Wright Thursday in Cromwell. The Cardinals cruised in the Section 7A quarterfinal game.

And then there were two.

The two remaining local teams in the Section 7A girls basketball tournament are Cromwell-Wright and South Ridge. Both teams won twice last week and entered Wednesday night's semifinal round at UMD after presstime.

Wednesday night the Cards, who are the No. 1 south seed, were scheduled to take on the No. 2 north seed, the Ely Timberwolves, in a 5 p.m. affair. That game was scheduled to be followed by the No. 1 north seed, Mt. Iron-Buhl, taking on the No. 2 south seed, the South Ridge Panthers.

Cromwell-Wright advanced last Thursday with an 82-24 win over the No. 8 seed, Fond du Lac Ojibwe. Fond du Lac finished the season with a 1-11 record. The Cards followed up their win over FDL with a Saturday afternoon 79-36 win over the No. 4 south seed, Hill City/Northland Storm.

"Our first four or five minutes were a little shaky to start the game," said Cards coach Jeff Gronner. "After we got the first few minutes out of the way, we played well and had a 30-point lead at halftime."

Key for the Cards was a minute-and-a-half span where Mya Gronner hit three 3-pointers in a row, which broke the game open and seemed to settle the team down, according to coach Gronner.

"Those quick 3-pointers right in a row really seemed to relax us and helped our girls settle into the game," he said. "We were in a bit of a funk up to that point, and that helped us get out of it."

While their offense struggled for a short time, the Cardinals' trademark defense continued to be impressive, causing numerous Storm turnovers and holding them to just 16 points in the first half.

"Defense is the backbone of our team, and it is something we hang our hat on," Gronner said. "If we defend like we're capable of, we should be in every game."

Joining Mya Gronner in double-digit scoring were Isabella Anderson with 14 points and Siiena Anderson with 11 points. Also scoring were Bryanna Foster with 9 points, Kyra Granholm and Jill Anderson with 8 points each, Marissa Dahl with 5, Emelia Dahl with 4, and Shannon Lund finished with 3.

"I liked our balanced scoring in that game," Gronner said. "We are at our best when we play good defense and we have a balanced score sheet."

Panthers pass Floodwood

South Ridge gained the semifinals by virtue of an 87-31 win over No. 7 seed Silver Bay and then a close 55-52 victory over the No. 3 south seed, the Floodwood Polar Bears.

"Floodwood is young, athletic and they are aggressive," said Panthers coach Brad Olesiak. "They are tough to match up against."

The Polar Bears hit a big 3-point shot just seconds before the first half ended to lead by a point at halftime. South Ridge hit a couple of 3-pointers early in the half, but then started to struggle from the outside as the half wore on.

Dan Saletel

Cromwell-Wright's Isabella Anderson gets a shot at the net for two points as the Cardinals take on Fond du Lac Ogichida Thursday night in Cromwell

"We needed to get the ball inside to Mercedes (Lawrence) after halftime, and we knew that would open things up for everyone else," Olesiak said. "Lawrence is extremely unselfish, and I told her she needed to look to score more, and when she got into a one-on-one situation, to go for it."

Lawrence, who had just 2 points at halftime, finished with 17 points. The Panthers were led by Svea Snickers, who poured in a game-high 21 points. Also scoring for the Panthers were Kaija Snickers with 8 points and Lainee Olson with 7. Madelyn Morse and Maya Vanderscheuren both scored 3 points.

"MIB will be a tough game for us," Olesiak said. "They just wear you down and come at you in waves. They attack you full court and they just keep coming and they tire you out, so we'll have our hands full."

Also in 7A

Earlier in the tournament, the No. 6 south seed, Carlton/Wrenshall, fell to Floodwood in the second round by a score of 43-30. The Raptors finished their first combined season with a 3-22 record.


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