3/7/2013 10:47:00 AM 'Cats in section final again, Vikings KO'd in semis Walker earns 100th victory in win over Hibbing
by JEFF NORTON
Chisago Lakes 61, Hibbing 45 After handily beating Duluth Denfeld in the opening round 67-50, the top-seeded Wildcats took on the fourth-seeded Hibbing Bluejackets Friday, March 1.
The familiar inside-out offense of Bryanna Fernstrom, Sarah Greene and Hannah Trandahl gave the Jackets fits all night when they were on the court. For a time, however, Fernstrom wasn’t a part of the action because she picked up two early fouls. They buoyed themselves with enough offense however to still have a five point lead at halftime, and with the return of Fernstrom, the ‘Cats switched to a half court trap that instantly befuddled the Hibbing squad.
Fernstrom was able to avoid any more costly fouls and Chisago Lakes began to extend their lead until they won by 16 points, limiting Hibbing to just 18 second half points. “The ability of Hannah and Bry to play with fouls was one key to this game,” Head Coach Craig Walker said. “Another key for us was our defense. We struggled to contain their premier scorer early and without Bry, their posts were able to seal our smaller posts and scored a couple easy baskets. “Our defensive pressure kept Hibbing from penetrating and created 21 turnovers which was the difference.”
The victory gave Walker his 100th career victory, but it’s number 101 that is the more important one in his mind. “We have a rematch with Grand Rapids on Thursday at Denfeld, which will be a battle and should be exciting!” The girls will take the court with a chance for their second straight berth to state on the line on Thursday, March 7 at Duluth Denfeld at 7 p.m.
Grand Rapids 67, North Branch 61 The Thunderhawks earned their way to the section final by ousting North Branch 67-61 in the section semis. The Vikings actually battled to overcome an 11-0 run to start the game by Grand Rapids and held a 30-28 lead at halftime. “Our team has come back from being behind many times this season and they did it again,” Head Coach Dan Schindler said. “I know this team will never quit.”
North Branch tried to pull away from Rapids in the second half, but they stayed close with some hot three point shooting. Unfortunately for NB, the game came down free throws, which is a stat Schindler will usually take his chances with, but the Hawks just had the edge, going 21-of-27 while NB was just eight-of-17.
“We usually win that stat but tonight Grand Rapids did and that was the difference in the game,” Schindler lamented. “I felt our players left everything they had on the court and that is all coach can ask of any team.”