FIELD TWP—The North Woods Grizzlies boys basketball team is on a roll, chalking up three wins in a barnburning double-overtime battle against Moose Lake, a runaway victory against …
FIELD TWP—The North Woods Grizzlies boys basketball team is on a roll, chalking up three wins in a barnburning double-overtime battle against Moose Lake, a runaway victory against Littlefork-Big Falls, and a second-half surge to victory over International Falls.
Tuesday’s home contest against International Falls was neck and neck at halftime, with the Grizzlies holding a slim 42-41 lead at the half.
“I think International Falls came out with a lot of intensity,” head coach Will Kleppe said. “Their quickness getting to the basket really hurt us. It was kind of a wakeup call for us.”
The only adjustment Kleppe made during the break was to ask his players to come out in the second half with more intensity.
“If they’re not getting the job done defensively, we’re not going to try to dream up some other scheme at halftime,” Kleppe said. “We decided to lock down on defense.”
The Grizzlies responded in a big way, allowing the Broncos just 20 second-half points.
Meanwhile, the Grizzlies scorched the net for 46 points, hitting 59 percent of their shots by using a strong inside game to open up scoring opportunities on the perimeter. The second half explosion led to an 88-61 win.
“Darius (Goggleye) and Trevor (Morrison) really got things going, and once they had to collapse inside for those guys, it opened things up on the outside for TJ (Chiabotti).”
Chiabotti scored the team’s only three-pointer on the way to 28 points, while Goggleye and Morrison each hit for 22.
Kleppe got the chance to give his starters some rest and bench players plenty of playing time Friday in an 87-42 rout of Littlefork-Big Falls, courtesy of a 35-point halftime lead, 67-32.
“I played 14 or 15 guys in that game,” Kleppe said. “We tried to keep guys fresh and limit their minutes. It was a good team effort all the way through the bench.”
All five North Woods starters scored in double figures. Chiabotti led the way with 21, followed closely by Jared Chiabotti with 18. Morrison scored 12, Goggleye hit for 11, and Brenden Chiabotti tallied 10. The Grizzlies hit 73 percent of their shots in the first half and 59 percent for the game.
The Grizzlies needed an easy game after Thursday’s thrilling double-overtime slugfest against Moose Lake.
The teams traded leads throughout the game, and with 2:47 left in the game Moose Lake appeared to be in the driver’s seat with an 83-79 advantage.
But coming out of a time out, Brenden Chiabotti and Trey Morrison punched back. Chiabotti hit a trey and Morrison scored on a baseline spin move. After a Rebels miss, Morrison gathered the rebound and tossed a lead pass to Chiabotti for a layup, tying the score at 83-83. Another Morrison basket and two free throws by TJ Chiabotti put the Grizzlies ahead 87-83 with just 23 seconds remaining.
Trailing 89-86 with nine seconds left in regulation, the Rebels missed a three-pointer but snagged the rebound and kicked the ball out to Brady Watrin, who drained a trey from the top of the key at the buzzer to send the game to overtime, 89-89.
The Grizzlies were in position to claim a 96-94 win with seven seconds to go when Morrison forced a jump ball that gave possession to North Woods under the Rebels’ basket. But Watrin stole the inbound pass and was fouled. He dropped in two free throws to send the game to a second overtime.
Morrison scored on three consecutive possessions to give the Grizzlies a 104-101 lead, but Mason Olson responded with a three-pointer for the Rebels to knot the score 104-104 with 1:19 remaining.
Brenden Chiabotti hit again from three-point range, and Goggleye deflected a Moose Lake inbounds pass to Jared Chiabotti, who was fouled with 10 second left. He failed to connect in two attempts from the line, but a desperation three-pointer by the Rebels missed, and Goggleye was fouled on the rebound. He hit two free throws to seal the 109-104 win.
Kleppe praised the play of his younger players under pressure.
“I thought in a big game and big atmosphere they did fantastic,” he said. “They held their composure, they took care of the ball but were still aggressive.”
He also had good words for Morrison’s clutch play down the stretch while leading the team with 34 points.
“He’s all over the floor, he’s on the floor, he’s always hustling,” Kleppe said.
The Chiabottis combined for 61 points, led by Brenden with 23, TJ with 20, and Jared with 18.