DULUTH—The Grizzlies easily advanced to the semi-finals of the Section 7A boys basketball tournament on Saturday after routing Mt. Iron-Buhl 86-53 at UMD’s Romano Gym. North Woods was set to face Deer River on Wednesday evening as the Timberjay went to press, with the winner to compete in the section championship on Friday night.
North Woods easily outpaced Deer River in their single meeting this season, on March 1, so the top-seeded Grizzlies would appear to have the advantage. With Saturday’s win, the Grizzlies head into their Wednesday night rematch with the Warriors at 23-2 on the season. Fourth-seeded Deer River enters the game at 14-13 following their 65-57 win over Chisholm last Saturday. The action is set to begin at 5:45 p.m., back at Romano Gym.
"We just need to keep our focus on the next game and expend our energy on the defensive side of the ball and on rebounding," Head Coach Will Kleppe said. "Deer River has some size and strength so we will have to match their physical play and keep the tempo of the game in our favor."
In Saturday’s contest, the Grizzlies took control early, scoring 50 points in the first half to carry a 50-35 lead into the break. The Rangers never recovered as the dominating North Woods defense held them to just 18 points in the second frame, while scoring 36 more of their own.
Junior forward Trevor Morrison and freshman guard T. J. Chiabotti led the way for the Grizzlies, scoring 21 points apiece, while senior Guard Chase Kleppe added 16 points.