FIELD TWP- The North Woods boys basketball team jumped into the second half of the season in style on Friday, cruising to an 88-54 home win against Virginia.The 2-6 Blue Devils brought enough height …
FIELD TWP- The North Woods boys basketball team jumped into the second half of the season in style on Friday, cruising to an 88-54 home win against Virginia.
The 2-6 Blue Devils brought enough height and talent to the floor to make the Grizzlies work hard all game, but not enough to pose a serious threat to the now seven-game North Woods win streak.
The Grizzlies never trailed, starting fast on a pair of buckets by Brenden Chiabotti and a score by T.J. Chiabotti to grab a 6-0 lead. North Woods went up 15-3 on a baseline drive by T.J. Chiabotti, but the Blue Devils fought back, closing the gap to 21-13 with nine minutes left in the half.
Virginia would get no closer, as Davis Kleppe hit a two and a trey on consecutive possessions to put the Grizzlies back up by double digits at 26-13. North Woods kept right on rolling, and a buzzer-beating NBA-depth triple from Brenden Chiabotti gave the Grizzlies a 49-26 cushion at the half.
“Virginia is always one we want to get,” Grizzlies Head Coach Will Kleppe said. “The boys came out with a lot of energy. We wanted to get quality possessions to start the game. As we approach the second half of the season this is certainly the type of performance we were looking for.”
When the pace dictated playing from offensive sets, the Grizzlies were patient and found success working the ball inside and along the baseline. Their production around the basket offset a subpar performance from three-point range, where North Woods hit only six of 21 attempts.
“There were times with the ball rotation where Virginia was passive on the defense and maybe our guys were surprised how open they were,” Kleppe said. “Sometimes you can feel like you’re too open, like there’s something wrong with that shot, and you hesitate. We’ve got to make those count.”
The Grizzlies’ kept up the relentless defensive dominance they’ve displayed en route to an 8-1 record, holding the Blue Devils to 41-percent shooting and 0-of-12 from three-point range while forcing 32 turnovers, including 15 steals. North Woods held a 39-35 edge in rebounding.
T.J. Chiabotti led North Woods scorers with 22, and Brenden Chiabotti was hot on his heels with 21.
Kleppe also noted the play of Sean Morrison, who had 14 points, and Davis Kleppe, the other Grizzly in double digits with 10.
“Those guys coming off the bench gave us strong games,” Kleppe said. “That’s a nice bonus when we get some guys to come into the game and give us a spark.”
In addition to dictating a shorter regular season, accommodating COVID-19 has also led to scheduling changes. North Woods has had weeks with only one game, but they’re about to play catch-up with four games in six days.
The Grizzlies were slated to host Chisholm on Thursday before road games on Friday against Deer River, Monday against Lakeview Christian Academy, and Tuesday against Nashwauk-Keewatin.