FIELD TWP – One could make the case the North Woods boys basketball team was a bit off its game Monday at home against Carlton. Defeating their opponents by an average of more than 40 points in …
FIELD TWP – One could make the case the North Woods boys basketball team was a bit off its game Monday at home against Carlton. Defeating their opponents by an average of more than 40 points in their previous 12 wins, the Grizzlies settled for a 23-point victory, 80-57.
After TJ Chiabotti scored the game’s first basket the Grizzlies never trailed, but the Bulldogs proved hard to shake. Bolstered by center Ben Soderstrom’s 14 first-half points, Carlton trailed by just two at the half, 37-35.
“There aren’t many nuggets of wisdom at halftime at this time of year other than do the things you’re capable of doing better,” head coach Will Kleppe said.
With just over 12 minutes to play and the Bulldogs within striking distance at 49-43, a jumper from the free-throw line by Trevor Morrison put the Grizzlies on course for a devastating finish.
Intense defensive pressure, often pushing out to midcourt, stymied Carlton shooters and forced turnovers that led to North Woods points. Over the next nine minutes Brenden Chiabotti, TJ Chiabotti, and Morrison were the primary scorers in a 24-5 smackdown that had the bewildered Bulldogs on their heels 73-48.
Dominant in the first half, Soderstrom disappeared in the second, scoring just two points.
“We did a better job of not letting him cut to the open spot without the ball,” Kleppe said. “Everybody knew where he was, and we doubled down on him effectively.”
All but one of the Grizzlies’ field goals came from 15 feet and in, while the team fired blanks in 13 tries outside the three-point line.
“There are going to be games like that,” Kleppe said. “When we’ve got our inside guys doing a good job, we can get away with that. The boys did a nice job of getting the ball inside.”
Five Grizzlies scored in double figures, led by TJ Chiabotti with 21. Brenden Chiabotti scored 16, Morrison hit for 13, and Darius Goggleye and Jared Chiabotti each scored 12.
Morrison and Goggleye led the way Friday as the Grizzlies doubled up Chisholm on the road, 91-45. Utilizing the familiar formula of pressure defense and working the ball down low, Goggleye dropped 14 first-half points, a total matched by TJ Chiabotti. It was Morrison’s turn in the second half to score 14, ending with a team-high 27 points. Goggleye was close behind with 20, followed by TJ Chiabotti with 16 and Jared Chiabotti with 15.
North Woods will close out the regular season at home on Friday against Deer River. The Grizzlies haven’t lost at home this season, and their 20-5 record includes 13 wins and no losses against sectional opponents.