FIELD TWP- For a team as young as the North Woods girls basketball team, opening the season last Thursday on their home court paid dividends in a hard-fought 47-41 win over Nashwauk-Keewatin.The …
FIELD TWP- For a team as young as the North Woods girls basketball team, opening the season last Thursday on their home court paid dividends in a hard-fought 47-41 win over Nashwauk-Keewatin.
The Spartans entered the game touting seven seniors; the Grizzlies don’t have any. North Woods has five freshmen; the Spartans don’t have any.
But performance, not age, is what mattered, and the Grizzlies found a crucial edge in something more likely expected from their older opponents – poise.
North Woods got an immediate boost when Brianna Whiteman, one of only two juniors on the team, popped down a trey on the game’s opening shot. Freshman Madi Dantes and sophomore Kiana LaRoque contributed points as the Grizzlies forged a 9-4 lead.
When the Spartans came back to take the lead 18-17, Whiteman immediately responded with a 15-footer to reclaim it for North Woods.
After building a 27-20 advantage, the Grizzlies watched their lead shrink to just two, but a pair of clutch free throws by freshman Helen Koch in the waning seconds of the first half doubled the edge to four, 29-25.
Poise came to the fore again in the second half when the youthful Grizzlies relinquished but regained the lead twice. Freshman Talise Goodsky scored on a fast break to erase the first deficit, and LaRoque put the Grizzlies up for good with a trey that made the score 40-37 with eight minutes remaining.
Scores by Dantes, freshman Hannah Cheney, and sophomore Madison Spears kept the Grizzlies ahead as they closed out the 47-41 win.
Dantes led North Woods in scoring with nine, followed by Whiteman with eight, Spears with seven, and Koch and sophomore Hannah Kinsey with six each.
The Grizzlies had a decidedly tougher time of it when International Falls came to North Woods on Monday.
Turnovers and missed shots from both teams were the rule in the early going, with the Grizzlies not scoring for the first seven minutes until a Dantes fast break bucket broke the drought. North Woods went another six minutes without a basket before Whiteman scored a three-pointer, trimming the Broncos lead to 13-5. International Falls led 19-10 at the half, and while North Woods continued to sputter the Broncos steadily pulled away to win 50-24.
Whiteman, Dantes, and Kinsey each scored six points in the loss.
North Woods was scheduled for another home contest on Thursday against Eveleth-Gilbert.