Hibbing Daily Tribune
HIBBING — The last time the Hibbing High School boys basketball team played in a final of their holiday tournament was 2015, losing to Cambridge-Isanti by 15.
The Bluejackets won the previous two titles in 2013 and 2014, before the the inception of the North Star State Hardwood Showcase.
That three-year drought has ended as Hibbing is back in the finals once again after a hard-fought 63-44 victory over Forest Lake Friday at the North Star State Hardwood Showcase being held at the Lincoln Elementary School Gymnasium.
The Bluejackets will face Cambridge-Isanti in the championship tilt, which begins at 5:15 p.m., today at the Lincoln Gym.
“It feels good to be back in it,” Hibbing coach Joel McDonald said. “These two games were grind-out games for us. This last one was nice because we finally got it to the pace that we wanted it to be.
“It freed up Mayson (Brown) and Tre (Holmes), and they knocked down some big threes to give us some momentum. They also got us some good steals on the defensive end, too.”
The key, according to McDonald was his teams’ matchup zone.
“That slowed them down a lot,” McDonald said. “It threw them off balance a little bit, but eventually, they started to figure it out. When we went to our press again, things turned in our favor. That got the tempo going in the right direction.”
The first-half tempo wasn’t going in the Bluejackets’ favor, but Hibbing did hold a 27-17 lead late in the half.
From that point on, the Rangers cut into that lead, trailing by three at the half, 27-24, then they outscored the Bluejackets 11-4 to start the second half to take a 35-31 lead.
“That’s where we broke down defensively,” McDonald said. “We were so concerned about (Jordan) Boysen that we over compensated for that and lost some guys on the perimeter.
“We had some bad offensive possessions at crucial times, but we fixed it. They made a good run at us right at the end of the first half. We had offensive opportunities, but we didn’t capitalize on them early in the second half.”
Parker Maki made two free throws to make it 35-33, then the momentum took a turn toward the Hibbing side when Maki hit basket, then Brown hit a three to make it 38-35.
Hayden Verhel scored, then Brown and Ayden McDonald hit back-to-back 3-pointers, and the Bluejackets had a 46-35 lead.
Forest Lake hit consecutive baskets to make it 46-39, but the Bluejackets would go on to out-score the Rangers17-5 down the stretch to advance into the championship game.
“We pulled away at the right time,” McDonald said. “Mayson’s three got us going. When they had the 1-3-1 trap on us, we stood, put the ball above head and let them come at us. Everybody was covered because they rotated well.
“That was disappointing, but once we got to the point where we were attacking more, taking seams and once we got into the paint and moved the ball, hitting Tre and Mayson on the perimeter, when they catch those passes in rhythm, those shots feel good on the catch itself. Those are the things we need to learn.”
Hibbing will have its hands full against their Bluejacket counterparts.
“We have to make sure we don’t lose their key players,” McDonald said. “They throw uip so many 3-pointers, and they’re good at it. They are probably on pace to set their state record they set for attempts last year. They might get there by the New Year from watching them play the last two days.
“We have to keep them in check as much as we can, and maximize our offensive possessions. If we get into a track meet and we have bad offensive possessions, it’s not going to end well for us.”
Hibbing was led by Holmes and McDonald with 15 points apiece. Maki had 10.
Boysen had 17 for Forest Lake. Eric Peterson finished with 10.
FL 24 20 — 44
HHS 27 36 — 63
Forest Lake: Owen Berg 9, Eric Peterson 10, Harrison Taylor 8, Jordan Boysen 17.
Hibbing: Hayden Verhel 4, Mayson Brown 6, Tre Holmes 15, Parker Maki 10, Eli Erickson 6, Isaac Colbaugh 7, Ayden McDonald 15.
Total Fouls: Forest Lake 17; Hibbing 9; Fouled Out: Peterson; Free Throws: Forest Lake 1-2; Hibbing 13-14; 3-pointers: Berg 3, Peterson 2, Taylor 2, Brown 2, Holmes 3, Colbaugh, McDonald 2.
Duluth East 77
HIBBING — It’s early, but there may have been a preview of the Section 7AAAA finals at the North Star State Hardwood Showcase Friday.
That’s because 7 4A powers Cambridge-Isanti and Duluth East met in a seminal contest, with the Bluejackets coming away with an 83-77 victory over the Greyhounds.
Henry Abraham had 29 points for Cambridge-Isanti, with six 3-pointers, which gave him 15 threes in two days of play. Micah Ladd had 25, with three 3-pointers.
But a victory in December isn’t the same thing as a victory in March, according to Bluejacket coach Mike McDonald.
“It’s important right now, but it’s not important in the overall picture,” McDonald said. “It’ll come down to who’s playing better in March. The good thing is it will probably put us in opposite brackets of the sectional tournament.
“Then it’s a couple three games to see what happens.”
Other than a regular-season meeting, these two teams could meet again in the playoffs.
“Us and them are probably two of the better teams looking at our section,” McDonald said. “It’s hard to say because it’s so early. I haven’t had a chance to see Forest Lake pay.
“We play Blaine at Blaine this coming Friday. That will be an indicator, too. The early indications are that probably the two of us will see each other yet again for a third time.”
According to McDonald, balance got his team this victory.
“Henry leads us a lot, but when you look at the game Micah, and the game Paul had, especially knocking down shots in the first half when we were a little cold,” McDonald said. “Ryan and Hunter hit a couple of shots in the second half.
“For us, it’s how well we shoot it from the perimeter, especially the three.”
CIHS 45 38 — 83
DE 36 41 — 77
Cambridge-Isanti: Connor Braaten 4, Henry Abraham 29, Ryan Cox 7, Hunter Melander 6, Paul Swanson 12, Micah Ladd 25.
Duluth East: Zaa Buffalo 13, Giovanni Saldivar 3, Will Van Skoy 25, Noah Winesett 5, Mattie Thompson 23, Noah Paulson 8,
Total Fouls: Cambridge-Isanti 16; Duluth East 16; Fouled Out: None; Free Throws: Cambridge-Isanti 13-17; Duluth East 12-15; 3-pointers: Abraham 6, Cox, Melander 2, Swanson 4, Ladd 3, Buffalo, Saldivar, Van Skoy 5, Winesett, Thompson.
Duluth Denfeld 32
HIBBING — Connor Chappell had 25 points as the Spartans beat the Hunters in a consolation semifinal contest at the North Star State Hardwood Showcase Friday.
Also hitting double figures for Orono was Andy Mandel with 12.
Armon Freeman had 14 points to pace Denfeld.
OHS 33 37 70
DD 16 16 — 32
Orono: Nick Byrnes 2, Graham Beltrand 4, Nick Hartman 5, Jack Patterson 2, Connor Chappell 25, Jake Farrell 8, Sabastian Loder 6, Andy Mandel 12, Grant Gunderson 2, Mason Torue 2, Luke Delottre 2.
Duluth Denfeld: Armon Freeman 14, William Woodfork 2, Donte McDonald 2, Josh Reinertson 9, Jon Bongiovanni 2, Aidon Persson 3.
Total Fouls: Orono 14; Duluth Denfeld 12; Fouled Out: None; Free Throws: Orono 5-9; Duluth Denfeld 4-9; 3-pointers: Hartman, Chappell 2, Loder 2, Reinertson, Persson.
Grand Rapids 70
HIBBING — John Sutherland went off for 27 points in the second half as the Thunderhawks rallied from a eight-point halftime deficit to beat the Huskies in a consolation-round contest at the North Star State Hardwood Showcase Friday.
Sutherland finished with 35 points. Austin Hanson had 13.
Austin Learned had 19 for Andover, and Jacob Aune finished with 10.
GHS 27 43 — 70
AHS 35 24 — 59
Grand Rapids: Dawson Persons 3, Easton Fothergill 8, Austin Hanson 13, John Sutherland 35, David Ellies 6, Chase Hopperton 3, Derek Erdman 2.
Andover: Calvin 7m Nick Feine 3, Austin Learned 19, Jacob Aune 10, Elijah Alexander 8 Jack Sharon 3, Ethan Kalmes 3, Sam Musungu 6.
Total Fouls: Grand Rapids 16; Andover 17; Fouled Out: None; Free Throws: Grand Rapids 11-20; Andover 9-12; 3-pointers: Fothergill 2, Hanson, Sutherland 5, Ellies, Foy, Feine, Aune 2, Alexander, Kalmes.
Sacred Heart 59
CHISHOLM — Ivy Edwards led three players in double figures with 13 points as Sacred Heart beat the Bluestreaks in the Chisholm Tournament Friday at Bob McDonald Court on Roels Gymnasium.
Maddie Mitzel and Grace Vonesh each had 11 points.
Jordan Temple had 14 points for Chisholm.
SH 39 20 — 59
CHS 26 13 — 39
Sacred Heart: Bella Haas 4, Ivy Edwards 13, Macyn Bloom 5, Maddie Mitzel 11, Sydney Lloyd 7, Bella Knudson 6, Audrey Zavoral 2, Grace Vonesh 11.
Chisholm: Jordan Temple 14, Sofie Anderson 9, Amanda Bjortont 6, Tresa Baumgard 4, Katie Pearson 4 Mya Pessenda 2.
Total Fouls: Sacred Heart 21; Chisholm 24; Fouled Out: Pearson; Free Throws: Sacred Heart 13-29; Chisholm 10-14; 3-pointers: Anderson.
Mounds View 2
ST. PAUL — The Mustangs scored twice in the first period and they hung on for the victory over the Bluejackets at the Kaposia Classic Friday at Doug Woog Arena.
Laura Arfstrom scored at 4:07 and Sophie Coltvet tallied at 9:45, which would turn out to be the game-winning goal.
Dorothy Kearney scored at 11:47 for Hibbing/Chisholm.
Lily Hess had 22 saves for the Bluejackets.
Abbie Thompson finished with 24 stops.
MV 2 0 0 — 2
HC 1 0 0 — 1
First Period — 1. MV, Laura Arfstrom, 4:07; 2 MV, Sophie Coltvet (Lauren McAlpine, Pagie Landis), 9:45; 3. HC, Dorothy Kearney (Alie Bussey, Darian Carlson), 11:47.
Second Period — No scoring.
Third Period — No scoring.
Goalie Saves — Mounds View, Abbie Thompson 7-11-6—24; Hibbing/Chisholm, Lily Hess 8-5-9—22.
Penalties — Mounds View 6-12; Hibbing/Chisholm 6-12.
BEMIDJI — The Wildcats had four players in double figures en route to the win over the Bluejackets at the Bemidji Holiday Tournament Friday.
Jocelyn Plonski had 13, Lily Faudre and Taylor Grebin had 12 each and Delaney Hake had 11.
Kourtney Manning led Hibbing with 19 points.
HHS 24 26 — 50
EHS 20 37 — 57
Hibbing: Reese Aune 2, Fanci Williams 8, Jacie Clusiau 9, Makenzie Clough 7, Haley Hawkinson 5, Kourtney Manning 19.
Eagan: Morgan Eckerle 1, Taylor Grebin 12, Morgan Madsen 8, Delaney Hake 11, Jocelyn Plonski 13, Lily Faudre 12.
Total Fouls: Hibbing 20; Eagan 17; Fouled Out: Clusiau; Free Throws: Hibbing 11-18; Eagan 16-27; 3-pointers: Clusiau 2, Clough, Manning 2, Grebin.
CHISHOLM — The Bulldogs got 17 points from Ben Soderstrom en route to the victory over the Bluestreaks at Bob McDonald Court in Roels Gymnasium Friday.
Ryan Gray and Matt Santkuyl both had 13 for Carlton.
Jude Sundquist had 14 for Chisholm, and Bryce Warner and July Abernathy both had 11.
Chisholm plays at 4 p.m., today against Wrenshall.
CAHS 30 35 — 65
CHS 27 26 — 53
Carlton: Adam Hey 6, Caide Northrup 6, Ryan Gray 13, Sawyer Thorman 2, Austin Parker 1, Justin Swanson 7, Matt Santkuyl 13, Ben Soderstrom 17.
Chisholm: Dillon Splinter 2, Jude Sundquist 14, Bryce Warner 11, Jacob Fena 2, July Abernathy 11, John Mitchell 7, Dan Rusten 6.
Total Fouls: Carlton 21; Chisholm 15; Fouled Out: None; Free Throws: Carlton 6-12; Chisholm 10-22; 3-pointers: Northrup 2, Gray 2, Soderstrom, Sundquist.