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Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

Grizzlies wallop NER

David Colburn
Posted 2/10/21

FIELD TWP –The North Woods girls put together a dominating first half on Tuesday as they trounced the visiting Northeast Range Nighthawks, 70-23.Everything clicked for the Grizzlies in the …

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Grizzlies wallop NER

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FIELD TWP –The North Woods girls put together a dominating first half on Tuesday as they trounced the visiting Northeast Range Nighthawks, 70-23.
Everything clicked for the Grizzlies in the first half, as they opened with a 15-0 run keyed by seven points from Helen Koch. All five starters scored in the offensive blitz.
The Grizzlies ran a ferocious man-to-man defense that resulted in steals, turnovers, blocks, and defensive rebounds as they held the overmatched Nighthawks scoreless for the first 6:39 of the game. North Woods pushed the pressure out well beyond the three-point arc, keeping Northeast Range from establishing any sort of offensive rhythm.
The Grizzlies’ offense was firing on all cylinders – fast breaks, crisp offensive sets, and buckets off offensive rebounds – as they steadily built their lead. When a three-point battle ensued midway through the first half, the Grizzlies got the best of it with three treys from Kiana LaRoque and a fourth from Brianna Whiteman to go up 27-11 with nine minutes remaining. While the Grizzlies kept on rolling, the Nighthawks sputtered, scoring just one more basket and a free throw to trail 42-14 at the half.
Determined not to let off the gas, the Grizzlies came out of the locker room intent on ramping up their running game. While the scoring pace dropped off as offensive miscues mounted, the North Woods defense remained relentless, allowing only nine total points and shutting the Nighthawks out for the final seven minutes of the game.
Grizzlies Head Coach Liz Cheney utilized a platoon system in the game, substituting five players at a time in order to get more minutes of game experience for her non-starters. The system worked well, with all but two players scoring and fairly consistent play from whatever group was on the court for a given stretch.
One of Cheney’s main goals for the game was for the Grizzlies to maintain their intensity for all 36 minutes of the game. Given the outcome, mission accomplished.
“What we really needed to do was to focus on playing our game of basketball,” Cheney said. “We talked about that at halftime again, the level and the speed of the game that we want to maintain and how can we make sure that we’re playing with intensity and speed, because that’s how we like to play basketball.”
Defensive intensity has been a hallmark for this team early in the season, but Cheney was pleased to see what was happening on offense, too.
“To be able to have scoring somewhat evenly spread around through multiple players shows that the girls really came around,” Cheney said. “They were patient, they were able to set up the offense, and they fast broke when those opportunities came.”
The success of the substitution scheme served to reinforce something Cheney has believed since the start of the season.
“That shows that we’re not just five or six deep,” she said. “All of them have something to offer. I’m looking forward to finding those groups that click.”
Madison Spears scored 14 points to lead the Grizzlies, with Brianna Whiteman and Kiana LaRoque chipping in 11 each. Nine of the team’s 11 players scored in the game.
The Grizzlies were scheduled to be on the road Thursday at Ely, and will return home to host Littlefork-Big Falls on Tuesday, Feb. 16.

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