It was northern exposure on Monday night as I traveled to the UM Duluth campus for the 7A semifinals. The main reason was to chart Cromwell-Wright. I had seen the other two semifinalists the last two Saturdays down in the metro.
7A does their tournament right. They seed the entire section and you get semifinals that should be semifinals. 7AA runs a tournament that still has subsections. 1AA, 4AA, 5AA and 6AA have jettisoned those notions and seed straight up one through sixteen (or more). 7AA had a semifinal worthy (or final worthy) game last Saturday. 7A saved their best for last. Not every semifinal can be a nail biter. But there is a clear delineation between the top three and the rest of the 7A field. That was on display in the first contest, which unfortunately ended up being another of the long line of running time games I have had to chart this year. The second had real play off intensity and atmosphere—-March atmosphere.
CROMWELL-WRIGHT 81, CHISHOLM 23
Cromwell-Wright showed why they are the number one seed in the section, and number two in the poll with a convincing 81-23 over number five seed Chisholm in the opener Monday. CW, or team Hakamaki, had enough in the bank to win this game with nine minutes left in the first half (25-3). The Cardinals would have enough to double the Bluestreaks eventual game total by half 49-13. Both senior Hakamakis (Taya 23, Shaily 22) got to play on their future home court as they will transition to Bulldogs next season. With sophomore Natalie Hakamaki’s 14 the trio had 59 points. The Cardinal starters finished with a 145 pp100.
|TOP SCORER||Taya Hakamaki 23||Tresa Baumgard 10|
TRENCH PLAYER: Taya Hakamaki with 23 points, 109.5 pp100 and a 46 score in the 31 Club.
MOUNTAIN IRON-BUHL 60, CHERRY 46
The Rangers are no strangers at section finals and they made sure they will be in attendance on Thursday night for their tenth straight year with a 60-46 win over Cherry, a team that spent a good portion of the season in the top 10 poll. MIB has depth. Senior starter Miah Gellerstedt is out with an ACL suffered in their Saturday quarterfinal win. The way MIB plays defense does not allow any space for other teams to really break free. The Rangers contest everything. I imagine their practices are bloodbaths. The cumulative result of all this intense pressure can deplete the cognitive bandwidth of opponents. Cherry scored right off on their first possession—they won the tip. They would expand that to 4-0. After a six all tie MIB would score eight unanswered points. The Ranger lead would stretch to 20-7 with under nine left in the first half. Then Cherry had their resurgence. But resurgences, combined with fouls piling up—on Cherry—-takes energy. The Tigers outscored MIB 16-6 the remaining nine minutes to trail 26-23 heading into the second half. Just like the first 18 minutes, Cherry scored the first four points and had climbed out of that 13 point deficit hole to lead 27-26. That lead lasted less than one possession. Sage Ganyo delivered a triple and that was the rocket fuel for the Rangers as they outscored the number three seed down to the two minute mark 34-12. The last seven points of the night all were scored by Cherry. Cherry had an empty tank as the relentless pressure took away any clean looks. They were simply exhausted. Cherry never scored from behind the arc.
Did I mention that there was playoff intensity? There were 42 fouls called in this game. MIB can handle that load. Cherry could not. Two Cherry starters fouled out; one Ranger. Nine different Rangers saw ten minutes or more of action. Cherry relied on six players for 24 or more minutes of action.
Leading the way for MIB was eighth grader Jordan Zubich with 25 points—she reminds me somewhat of former Ranger Chelsea Mason. Zubich knocked down four 3s on the night.
|TOP SCORER||Jordan Zubich 25||Jessa Schroetter 11|
TRENCH PLAYER: Jordan Zubich 25 points, 156.2 pp100 and a 32 score in the 31 Club. The second time in two chartings she made the 31 Club.