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November 20, 2018

2/2/2018 10:52:00 AM
HOOPS ROUND UP: Cambridge-Isanti stings three county area teams

Chisago Lakes 61, Cambridge-Isanti 37
The Wildcats cruised to a 61-37 victory over Cambridge-Isanti to rebound nicely after an upset loss to Hibbing earlier in the week.

The Bluejackets are struggling this year with four sophomore starters in their lineup. They’ve scuffled to a 2-16 record on the year, and it’s been a learning year.

Chisago Lakes took advantage of that by using their senior leadership and wealth of experience to crush any hope the ‘Jackets had right away.
The ‘Cats jumped out to a 30-7 lead late in the first half, and although Cambridge-Isanti did go on a little 8-0 run to end the half, Chisago Lakes was comfortably in control.

In the second half, the onslaught continued, even as CL’s back-ups entered the game, finishing up the 61-37 victory for Chisago Lakes to improve their record to 11-5.

“We don't typically beat Cambridge very often,” CL Head Coach Craig Walker said. “When we've had good teams, they’ve also had good teams and they've always seemed to get the better of us.”

The scoring attack was balanced. Carmen Backes had 17 points and Thea Kluge continued to be effective from downtown with five three pointers and 16 points.

“This was our first game back after getting beaten on the road in Hibbing pretty badly and it was nice to get a win before taking on St. Francis, Big Lake and Cloquet next week,’ Walker said.

They took on St. Francis earlier this week at the Saints home court, and they’ll travel to Big Lake on Thursday, February 1 for a tilt against the Hornets before hosting the Cloquet Lumberjacks on Friday, February 19 at 7 p.m.
Cambridge-Isanti 49, North Branch 47
The Vikings have had struggles of their own this season, with only a 3-14 record on the year, and they dropped a close contest with the Bluejackets on Tuesday, January 23 to give C-I only their second win on the year.

The game was close throughout, and for a time it looked like North Branch’s ability to get to the free throw line would be the difference. But, Cambridge-Isanti got hot late from three point range, and NB couldn’t combat that.

The Vikings were also very top heavy, also, with only five players scoring in the game, and one of them only had two points.

Jillayna Hoppe had a game-high 14 points, with eight of them coming from the free throw stripe, Savannah Linkert had 13 and Kate Carlson had 10 points and seven rebounds. As a team, the Vikings were 14-of-21 from the free throw line, but only three-of-15 from deep.

Cambridge-Isanti, on the other hand, was six-of-16 from long range, included four-of-eight in the second half.

St. Francis 71, North Branch 51
The shooting woes continued for North Branch in a 20 point loss to the Saints on Friday, January 26.

The Vikings shot 32 percent from the field and only 22 percent from deep on the game. They didn’t help themselves by barely shooting over 50 percent from the free throw line, too.

St. Francis’ defense just kept the pressure on NB’s offense, and they couldn’t get good shot attempts off.

Hoppe had 12 points and Megan Bunes added 10. They were the only Lady Vikes in double figures.
Cambridge-Isanti 85, Chisago Lakes 58
The Wildcats couldn’t keep up with a much improved Cambridge-Isanti team this year.

The Bluejackets have been ranked at times this season in Class 4A, and it showed against Chisago Lakes. The ‘Cats played OK in the first half, staying within a respectable striking range, but the Bluejackets really turned it on in the second half.

“We could not stop Cambridge in transition in the second half,” Head Coach Todd Dufault said after the game. “Give credit to the Bluejackets for playing a great game and hitting their shots in the second half. There’s a reason they are having a great season.

“The full court pressure they displayed will definitely help us as we move forward in the schedule.”

Chisago Lakes 65, Hibbing 63
The ‘Cats rebounded nicely with a short turnaround win over Hibbing on Saturday, January 27.

The Bluejackets were 11-4 on the season coming into the game and riding an eight game win streak, but the ‘Cats didn’t pay those numbers any mind.

Chisago Lakes came out firing in the first half, building a 17 point lead, which was a surprise after the late night return from Cambridge-Isanti the night before. Hibbing made a bit of a run to cut the lead to 11 by halftime, but Chisago Lakes still had the edge.

In the second half, Hibbing continued to claw their way back into the game and got Chisago Lakes into some foul trouble. To their credit, the bench really came through. “We got some great minutes from our bench players,” Dufault said.

With the time winding down, Hibbing had eliminated CL’s early lead and the game was tied, but senior Matt Mohr, who has dealt with a lot of adversity in his career, hit a game winning runner down the lane with just 1.5 seconds left in the game.

“I could not be more proud of the team effort,” Dufault said. “The bench was into the game, we got contributions from everyone and this was no doubt the best team ball we’ve played all season. The guys are learning how to trust  each other, and that was a big reason why we won this game.

Seth Thompson led the ‘Cats offensive output with 20 points. Nils Gulbranson had 12 points, Mitchell Barrett had nine points and Will Tinjum added eight.

“The section is up for grabs.  We have a lot to play for and the hard work is paying off,” Dufault said. “We believe in each other and look forward to two home games this week on Tuesday and Friday."

Cambridge-Isanti 60, North Branch 46
The Cambridge-Isanti boys basketball team kept their roll going through the Chisago County teams with a 60-46 win over NB on Tuesday, January 23

“We knew that Cambridge was going to really pressure us and we weren't able to handle that pressure,” Head Coach Alex Kuhlman said. “I thought that it was the best defensive game that we have had all season but just were not able to handle their defensive pressure and take care of the basketball.”

The Bluejackets enjoyed a pretty comfortable lead most of the game that stretched into the 20’s in the second half, but they made a little late run to make the tally a bit more respectable.

Jonah Marcussen had 13 points and six rebounds, Conner Hartmann had 11 points and fourth rebounds.

Zach Gazda had a tough time establishing position down low on the offensive end, but he did some damage on the glass, grabbing 15 rebounds and swatting away four blocks.

St. Francis 76, North Branch 46
The Vikings couldn’t follow up their strong defensive effort against Cambridge-Isanti into their Friday, January 26 showdown with the Saints of St. Francis.

North Branch dug themselves a deep hole early, and it made all facets of their game struggle and strain.

“Our defense, leading into this game, had been a strong point for us but for whatever reason, we struggled against St. Francis.

And for the second game in a row, the offense struggled with a pressure defense. “We went to a different lineup early in the second half and that brought energy and enthusiasm,” Kuhlman said. That second unit went on a 14-4 run as soon as they entered the game.

Kuhlman wanted to note some of the bench players that got them that spark and that have been great leaders off the court for the Vikings this year.

“Ben Roettjer played a fantastic game off of the bench. As a senior captain he has had a very limited role this year, but he shows up at practice with a great attitude and has always accepted his role. He came in early during this game and he was great. He had eight points, two rebounds, three assists and two steals. More importantly, he played 23 minutes and was only a -1....which is impressive and means in the 13 minutes he was off of the court we were a -28. Perfect example of always being ready when your number is called.

“Carter Whitman also had a very good game in only his second game starting for us. He had 11 points and I think he just brings a fun energy to the court. We look for him to continue making huge strides down the stretch run.

“Drew VanEerden I thought also had a great game. He provided energy and worked extremely hard. He ended up with three points, but similar to Ben...he played 15 minutes and was a +1 for the game.”

The Vikings will host St. Michael Albertville on Monday, February 5 at 7:15 before traveling to Rogers on Friday, February 9.

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