Raptors rip through Section 7A foess


March 15, 2024

Dan Saletel

Carlton/Wrenshall's Sam Ojibwe keeps a step ahead of South Ridge's Sawyer FierkeLepp to get up to the basket during Thursday evening's Section 7A playoff matchup in Wrenshall.

The large Section 7A boys basketball tournament reached a fever pitch Wednesday, with two of the remaining four teams hailing from Carlton County. One of those local teams was expected to be in the mix, while the other has shocked everyone but themselves.

On March 7, the No. 1 seed out of the south, Carlton/Wrenshall, easily handled No. 8 south seed South Ridge to the tune of 85-55.

"Overall, it was a good team win," said Raptors coach Shawn Filipiak. "We came out a little slow, but we started sharing the ball after the first half and eventually pulled away with the win."

No. 2 south seed Cromwell-Wright was able to dispatch No. 7 south seed Cook County by 20 points the same night.

The final game Thursday featured the upstart Fond du Lac Ogichidaa, seeded No. 6 in the south, taking on No. 3 south seed Northland. The Ogichidaa promptly bounced Northland from the tournament by a 84-66 score.

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On Saturday, the tournament moved to Hibbing and the Raptors continued their juggernaut first combined season by mauling Hill City, 81-61, ensuring them a place in Wednesday's semifinals.

"We played a good game and had five players in double-digit scoring," said Filipiak. "We ended up keeping our foot on the gas and got the win."

Meanwhile, Fond du Lac continued its upset streak by eliminating Cromwell-Wright by an impressive 74-59 score.

"I felt all year like we were coming on and all we needed to do was find our identity," said Fond du Lac head coach Cameron Thompson. "We had to learn how to lose with dignity and quit hanging our heads. Through that, we learned how to win and to show people what this team is capable of."

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The Section 7A tournament has always featured a crossover during the semifinals which means that the lowest seeded team from the north will play the highest seeded team from the south and vice-versa.

That means the semifinals would feature Carlton-Wrenshall against No. 2 north seed Mountain Iron-Buhl. The second game pitted No. 1 north seed Cherry against No. 6 south seed Fond du Lac. The Ogichidaa faced the defending state champion Tigers, who have been the No. 1 ranked team in Minnesota all season.

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Results from Wednesday's semifinal games saw both Carlton County teams end their seasons. Carlton/Wrenshall fell to MIB 79-70 in the early game. Cherry rolled past the Fond du Lac Ojibwe 114-55 in the later game.

Dan Saletel

Gavin LeBrasseur of the Raptors leaps to disrupt a pass intended for the Panthers' Gavin Willeck.

Look for more on the 7A semifinals and championship games in next week's Pine Knot News.


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